My Bushwick Boyfriend
It’s not often that you have a moment of theater linger in your head for days. Yet when when you have a theatrical experience that couldn’t possibly be any better for hitting all of the high points of your personal hard wiring, well, that’s different.
The Grand Paradise by Third Rail Projects is the story of a 1970s resort, which may—or may not—contain the fountain of youth. Set in a decked out warehouse in Brooklyn, the immersive theatrical experience is something that is all about knickknacks and period soundscapes. There is a lot of drinking of water that may or may not be magical, wishing in fountains that may or may not be magical, standing on shifting sand and drinking of drinks that may or may not be magical.
The guests wonder some, but are sometimes pulled into different tiny rooms in small groups to have different experiences. One small group encounter had a flashlight shone into a mirrored bowl that projected a version of stars on the ceiling. I had my hands washed, my palms read, I saw a naked boy trying to make his way into a motel. There might have been a narrative.
The most powerful moment of the show for me was the “boyfriend experience.” I was ushered into a small bedroom, with a Star Wars pillowcase on a twin bed. I was asked to pick a 45 record out of a box. I don’t remember what song I got, but there was a pillow fight, a lovely cuddle, some hand holding, a palm reading, and enough genuine personal tension that my heart was beating fast when the actor placed my hand over my own eyes.
Then again, being an old lady, the “Star Wars” sheets and 45s were what was actually in the bedrooms of the dudes I knew in high school. I’ve even been crazy in love with a man who has looked intently at my palm and told me “everyone knows something about palm reading in this part of the world.” And the skinny dark-haired actor was what my dreamscape would have ordered if it had been consulted.
In contrast, my friend had the “girlfriend experience”…which would have been totally great if he wasn’t gay! He later said, “I wish I could have had the guy..” Apparently a woman who took her top off wasn’t his thing. But a nice cuddle with a fetching dark haired dude in a towel was totally perfect for me.
As for the rest of the show, well, it feels slight and less textured than the Punchdrunk Theatre Company’s deconstructed version of “The Scottish Play” Sleep No More at the McKittric Hotel in Manhattan. You can see that the set is less nuanced and textured, the dancing isn’t as jaw dropping and athletic… and you have to schlep to Bushwick on the L train.
But you also might have the most intense unexpected emotional moment of your life with a handsome actor in a warehouse in Bushwick.
*Though I don’t know the name of the actor (the company is listed as a collective on the program) someone please tell him that the former theater critic with purple hair and the statement hat was completely devastated by his performance last Thursday. Truth is what works, and that was for more truth than I was expecting to find in Bushwick.
The lingering aftereffect of the show and “the boyfriend moment” is like that of a particularity interesting dream. It feels real afterward, even if it wasn’t exactly real.
Art is dangerous.
The Grand Paradise runs through the end of December 2016.
FYI: If you are looking for dinner near the theater, the Sea Wolf had great food and happy hour oysters! The day we were there, they even offered a slight discount on our bill with a flash of our “Grand Paradise” tickets!
If you will be in the city during the holiday period, The Grand Paradise is having a New Year’s Eve closing night show and party that looks totally legit. I’d totally go if I was gonna be in Bushwick!