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Mind-bending immersive experience Particle Ink opens at Luxor

Updated April 22, 2024 - 7:15 pm

The question — scrawled across the wall in child-like penmanship near the doorway — quickly reveals itself to be a rhetorical one.

“Did you get the dream I sent you?” it asks.

And then you enter said dream.

A few steps later, we’re fully immersed in the House of Shattered Prisms, the home of enigmatic, transportive new performance show/immersive experience Particle Ink at the Luxor, a dark, winding labyrinth punctuated by sudden explosions of color, plenty of touch-screen wizardry and, naturally, an ornate throne fashioned from discarded kids toys.

“I feel like a fairy in here,” one member of our entourage notes as she takes in the surroundings during a tour of the place on a recent Wednesday afternoon prior to its grand opening on Saturday.

Past a burbling water feature whose innards swirl in what looks like a pool of psychedelic magma, we enter an open room appointed with half-a-dozen pillars that jut upward from the floor like artisanal stalagmites.

Before long, a man in black overalls wielding a glowing wand conjures a luminous, animated child from a crib to scale the limbs of a towering tree; shortly thereafter, a woman in a flowing white dress opens an umbrella to shield herself from a cloud burst of light, twirling herself amidst a downpour of illuminated raindrops.

They perform amidst cryptic riddles etched into various surfaces: “What am I? I fly but have no wings, I cry but have no eyes;” “Some of us are dead but you’ll never know which.”

What does it all mean?

That’s up to you, really.

Much is left to the imagination here, and while there is a general narrative of finding the light amidst so much of life’s darkness, the larger point is for most everything to be open to interpretation.

“This gives us the opportunity to play pretend,” explains Cesar Hawas, Particle Ink’s executive producer, “to lose ourselves. To suspend our disbelief.”

‘Exploring imagination’

Headfirst into the toilet, down the figure in black goes.

We’re in what could pass for H.P. Lovecraft’s washroom: on top of black-and-white checked flooring, a tentacled creature emerges from a nearby bathtub; a snake-like nasty beast bares its serrated teeth at passersby.

Within this macabre setting, a performer hurls himself about the room in a kind of demonic parkour, before eventually plunging into the aforementioned commode, legs stretching outward in a “V” formation.

There are two components to Particle Ink: The performance-based show, which plays Mondays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m. and Thursday-Sunday at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

But visitors can also explore the space during the self-guided Wanderlust portion of Particle Ink, which is open daily from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Particle Ink’s debut on the Strip follows a successful run from its first production, Speed of Dark, which opened in an old warehouse downtown in 2o22 and won the Themed Entertainment Assocation’s Thea Award for “Outstanding Achievement-Immersive Live Experience” in 2023.

“What you saw downtown is going to be largely the same narrative journey that happens here,” Hawas says. “We’re exploring the same themes of using light and imagination to find our way through dark times, and learning to live alongside the darkness as opposed to fighting it.

“For us, it was important that we stuck to our narrative,” he continues, “because it’s the root of the story that we’re telling here. But we wanted to also give a new dimension by leaning into space.”

At the Luxor, Particle Ink occupies the space that formerly belonged to its wedding chapel.

“Finding a spot here at Luxor was amazing, because it just gives us this beautiful narrative container, this onyx pyramid in the middle of the desert,” Hawas says. “Being able to layer our creative experience onto the infrastructure of the space gave us the flexibility to let the narrative unfold in a way that’s not us directly telling the audience where we are and what we’re doing, who the players are, but allows us to be able to give a lot of freedom to the audience.”

We take advantage of this freedom to wander into a room dominated by “The Throne of Broken Toys,” which is comprised of mounds of old toy cars and trucks, action figures and the like.

We spot a Fisher-Price Corn Popper, a popular childhood staple.

At that age, the creative mind runs wild.

With Particle Ink, Hawas seeks to encourage the same — at any age.

“You get to lose yourself in the nostalgic experience of exploring imagination,” he says. “We never get to experience that in our adulthood, right?”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @jbracelin76 on Instagram

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