OGDEN — Extinguished, written and performed by Olivia Custodio, is part of Good Company Theatre in Ogden’s new Window Seat Sessions, a nearly sold out venture where Good Company is partnering with local phenomenal talent to bring lucky audience members who happen to get a ticket a chance to see unique live performances in a safe space.
When I arrived on Thursday night, I was shown to my seat with my daughter, six feet apart from the 4 other audience members, in front of the windows of the Good Company Theatre rehearsal studio space in downtown Ogden. We were all told beforehand to wear masks, and hand sanitizer was provided. Custodio’s performance was completely behind the glass windows, and was a solo performance. Austin Hull performed the technical duties with a mask while socially distancing from the audience. All in all, these precautions made Extinguished by far the safest of all the performances I have seen during the coronavirus pandemic. I commend producers Alicia and Camille Washington for finding a way to mount live productions while keeping the audience, crew, and performers as safe as possible.
As for the performance itself, Custodio billed it as a show based partially on prompts from the audience. Extinguished was a show about the trials and challenges of dating. And wow, did she cover that material well. Both my teenage daughter and I chortled as Custodio described lowering her standards to fit with those that she happened to be matched with on any number of dating apps. Custodio impressed us with her improv skills based on the prompts my daughter gave her with annoyances from my daughter’s life, as well as other fun prompts written down on cue cards from the audience.
Custodio also took a more dramatic turn remembering a moment when a relationship had failed, and she surprised me with how she could quickly turn from wit and humor to serious reflection and sorrow. That is the mark of a professional, and Custodio can connect with an audience on a deeper level and show the ability to access an array of emotions within a small amount of time. She used that moment to full advantage, and I found myself quite moved.
I was a bit skeptical when first reading the synopsis and understanding the limitations of COVID-19, wondering how we could truly have an audience participation show, but in the years since I have been able to critique at Good Company Theatre, I really should have known better. They truly know how to push boundaries and be creative, and Extinguished with Custodio is no exception. There was an interesting set, that looked like a small restaurant table that you might see at a first date, an awesome lighting display, and extremely well timed music cues that added a great deal of humor and wit to the production. The show only ran about a half hour, but it was likely the most amusing half hour I have spent since March 16, when the whole world seemed to shut down.
Not only was Extinguished amusing, it was emotional, entertaining, heart warming, and filled with hope. It helped me to feel that even if the theatrical world has to change, it may not have to disappear. I worried before that moving to complete digital would extinguish much of what is excellent about the arts, but Custodio and Good Company have showed me that while dating may be extinguished, live theatre isn’t.