Orlando Fringe 2023 review: ‘The War’

Lovers of sci-fi LARPing and innovative storytelling will want to enlist ASAP

Phoenix Tears has gone back to the future with a revised revival of The War, one of my favorite of their immersive audio dramas, and made the time-traveling saga even more impactful and accessible than before. Creators Megan Markham and Mallory Vance once again invite participants to wear headphones and watch actors pantomime to a streamed audio track, as they investigate the tragic turning point in a future apocalypse from three different perspectives. Along the way, you get to interact with a wounded warrior, be barked at by a hard-nosed general, and even attempt to assassinate some aristocrats.

While this version of The War uses substantially the same soundtrack as when it was seen in 2018, the major improvement is that every guest now gets to experience all three possible tracks, instead of only one, which makes the finale far more comprehensible. The props have also gotten a glow-up (courtesy of Lisa Smith and Jennifer Snell), so the crucial “explosives” that participants plant now have light-up displays.

I felt that the area around The Rep (where The War was first staged) provided a more varied terrain to explore, but moving the location to outside OMA means guests with vision or mobility restrictions can now participate. And the audience-selected ending drives home the point that even the best of intentions can result in more suffering. Lovers of sci-fi LARPing and innovative storytelling will want to enlist in this War ASAP.

Ticket and show information:
The War
Phoenix Tears Productions

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