We parked somewhat illegally and stumbled towards forms of people and the buildings of Historic Rittenhouse Town on Lincoln Drive. A gentleman in an old-fashioned suit beckoned us, silently and creepily—we were in for some “immersive theater.” So it began: Edgar Allan Poe (the title, DISSEVER MY SOUL, comes from his famous poem “Annabel Lee”) gave us each a letter determining where “the shadows” (cast members dressed in black) would take us for the evening. The scale was huge: fifteen people separated at random and led around extensive grounds, in the dark, with everyone ending up in the same place.
For twenty minutes DISSEVER MY SOUL was captivating: eerie scenes of corpses rising from the dead unfolding in silence, entering a room to find a man chained… and you have the key. Lone Brick Theatre, a company of Widener University students, created some haunting moments, and a memorable experience in total. Jared Bernatowicz, “that guy in the bowler hat,” scared the beejeezus out of everyone. But the tour lasted two and half hours, over an hour longer than billed, with very little spoken word. It lacked focus, or focused way too much on silent scenes of men and women stumbling, weeping, and screaming about in a forest. Cut down to an hour or so, sprinkled with more and better-quality Poe recitations, and given a vaguely clear plotline, DISSEVER MY SOUL would be an incredible Fringe offering. [Historic Rittenhouse Town, 208 Lincoln Drive] September 4-19, 2015; fringearts.com/dissever-my-soul.