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Mysterious new Las Vegas show makes you a character

Updated September 16, 2019 - 12:40 pm

Most of the time when you sit down for family dinner, you don’t know what you’re going to eat.

But sitting down for dinner with the Oakey Family means not knowing what you’ll talk about, what’s going to happen, or who you are going to be.

The “Oakey Family Supper Club” is a new experience produced by Las Vegas artists. It’s equal parts family drama, murder-mystery party and that game where everyone says one word at a time to create a fictional story.

The evening begins with a short email explaining who your character is and the downtown location where your purple-haired mother or maybe your Sinatra-obsessed boyfriend will pick you up.

Upon arriving at the Oakey House, you’ll be warmly greeted by your dozen or so family members and sit down for a meal of authentic Siberian goat tacos.

For the next two hours, the relationships, mob-related business dealings and brushes with the extraterrestrial will be largely determined by you.

“You’re not in the audience, you are a co-creator. You’re no longer a voyeur with no consequences,” says Joanna Harmon, a co-producing artistic director for production company Live Action Set. “Your participation directly affects the relationships between characters.”

Oakey Family is not an escape room. There is no puzzle to solve. Rather, newcomers are dropped into a dinner party where they are empowered to play.

Noah Bremer, a Cirque du Soleil performer in Las Vegas co-founded Live Action Set in 2004 to create imaginative performance experiences. Last November, he co-directed the circus show “Kinekt.”

“This is for audience members who want to push themselves out of their comfort zone,” he says. “The story cannot happen without everyone’s participation.”

Roughly half of the family members are guests while the other half are trained interactors, prepared to embrace unexpected improvisations while still moving the story forward.

“The story is structured like a scaffold,” Harmon says. “At this point, this plot element happens. Everyone will go outside for this activity. But how secrets are revealed will be different every night. How we get to those plot elements will be different.”

The cast members come from various performing arts and circus productions throughout Las Vegas. For many of them, Oakey Family is unlike anything they’d done professionally.

At the end of the first preview run on Monday night, Harmon gathered everyone to talk about how the experience felt — and reveal who was in on it and who was not.

“We just played a jazz song that can never be played again,” Harmon said at the night’s end. “When we have this opportunity to wear a cloak of fiction and act like this with no consequences, the ultimate hope is that that feeling will carry with them and empower them to live life in a way they want.”

Contact Janna Karel at jkarel@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jannainprogress on Twitter.

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