“What have I done? What have I done? I am a good person, but I did a bad thing.”
These words are the last thoughts of someone else—and tonight I become them. While these words might not be own, I say them aloud. “I am a good person, but I did a bad thing” The words repeat again in my voice, but my mouth is not moving. The words echo across my mind, filling me with a guilt I was unaware I had. They continue to repeat as I step into a dimly lit bathroom bathed in red. And it’s here that I am greeted by the horrific truth of what I did.
The Chalet is a remount of Annie Lesser’s smash-hit A(partment 8), which kicked off the ambitious The ABC Project—a series of twenty-six immersive experiences based on a location and a letter of the alphabet. Guests of The Overlook Film Festival were able escape the expansive halls and grand foyers to experience something a little more intimate. Meet a woman at a small alcove; remove your coat, your belongings, your inhibitions, and clear your mind. Nothing is more important that what you are about to experience.
While to share any details of the experience would spoil the beauty and personal connection felt during this ten-minute journey, I can speak to the larger themes. This show was intimate. Just you and one actress, in a small room permeated with vulnerability. It’s uncomfortable. A vast personal history exists between you and this person; she is there because of you. There’s no easing into this show. You are thrust into its poetically dark narrative and forced to be accountable, present, and open.
Ultimately, The Chalet is an exercise in empathy. Open yourself up to the feelings of another person, and then try to understand what the feelings were that led you down this dark path. Once you understand your own emotions and those of the young girl in front of you, you become inextricably intertwined with this experience. Where you end and it begins is blurred. The feelings that are implanted will reside within you for weeks—if not years.
This show speaks volumes of Annie Lesser’s artistry and Keight Leighn’s fearlessness. Leighn gives Lesser’s work a body to inhabit, taking formless brilliance and giving it shape. Thus, this living breathing performance adapts to each patron differently—depending on their actions, responses, feelings. It becomes something special in that each moment is fleeting; disappearing with the water down the bathtub drain.
This is a true work of art that cannot be explained; it has to be experienced. It’s a story of love and the horrors behind it. But it’s more-so a story of you and your willingness to empathize with another person. Open your heart and step into that apartment, or that chalet, and remember: you are a good person, but you did a bad thing.
As The Chalet is a remount of A(partment 8), please check the Fringe Festival Page for more information and for tickets. This is a must see show! For more information on The ABC Project, please check their Facebook.