SALT LAKE CITY — When I received my invitation to review #txtshow, it came with a list of interesting instructions that had me quite intrigued. The Great Salt Lake Fringe Festival is completely online this year. In the email I was told to make sure that I had a video and audio, that I had access to zoom, and that I should be ready to be fully immersed.
Featuring the talent of well-known performer Brian Feldman making his Utah debut, #txtshow (on the internet) is billed as a show where an anonymous character named txt recites a script written by the audience in real time over the internet.
Well, my readers, let me tell you. This experience was a great deal of fun, and for someone who has been missing out on theatre and the creative experience, this show was a great and safe way to have both. I joined a zoom room with a few other theatre goers, and we were asked to rename ourselves as anonymous so that the comments that we made would not be revealed as our own. Then Feldman, who was known only as text, sat at a plain desk and would read out each of our thoughts and would act out our story in real time.
At first it took a few moments to get the ball rolling. It was a bit difficult to think of things to type, and I imagine others felt the same. There were warnings before the show that because the audience members were the writers, there was no control over if there would end up being mature content in the process of the performance. It turned out that my group was not too mature in our content, preferring to stay more in the realm of slightly absurd and silly, with a lot of interesting twists and turns in topic.
Feldman was quite impressive in his ability to remain in character and also to take what was given to him and make it into an entertaining and engrossing evening. It is important to note that this show is a completely interactive theatrical experience, so only those who feel comfortable participating in it may feel comfortable in this environment. It also seemed like both Feldman and the person running the tech part of the production hoped for more vocal interaction from the audience, which was not something the group I was in readily provided. This feeling was not something they confirmed to us, so it may have just been my impression from the actions given.
Reviewing interactive shows is a compelling situation, because the experience I review may be completely opposite from what anyone else may experience, which is the magic and beauty of interactive, creative-based theatre; it’s knowing that each night is a new and different experience. Therefore, I encourage anyone who wants to experience #txtshow to think of creative ways to get someone to act or interact, think of funny lines or monologues or things that would be interesting to watch an actor say, and then take a chance to spend 45 minutes of your time creating some humor, joy, sadness, or who knows what else with other Fringe theatre-lovers with #txtshow (on the internet).