Giggling nervously as my new acquaintance is asked to wait outside, a strange man places my hands over my eyes, and asks me not to peek.
He undresses completely (I peeked), puts on pair of briefs, returns to me, and places my hand on his heart.
More uncomfortable giggling ensues (from us both this time), until said acquaintance gets bored of Playboy and Atari, and barges in on our private moment.
It was only later that I learned my boyfriend had a similar experience with an attractive blonde female (he also peeked).
We found ourselves in this strange and surreal situation while paying a visit to The Grand Paradise, the latest immersive theater experience from Third Rail Projects.
In the same vein as Punchdrunk’s Sleep No More, and Third Rail’s first production, Then She Fell, guests of The Grand Paradise are welcomed into a multi-sensory experience of 1970s relics including polyester, Disco, and, most importantly, free love.
After a brief “flight” (to what I imagine is St. Augustine), visitors of the resort are greeted with a tropical drink and lei, and begin to interact with the curiously friendly resort staff.
Exploration and crossing boundaries is highly encouraged, as performers lead guests into private encounters, and wax poetic about new age ideals and freedoms.
Unlike other entrancing theater experiences, The Grand Paradise is dance-based with an intentionally ambiguous plot (though there is a heavy focus on the Fountain of Youth), and offers more intimate and frequent one-on-one scenes with the actors. It’s a welcome respite from this month’s bitter cold, and another jewel in this new style of theater’s crown.
The show time (approximately 2 hours) seemed to fly by, and, as with most getaways, even after the final act was over, I didn’t want my time in paradise to ever end.