There’s a room in my mind that’s full of stars. Not real stars, but little twinkling bulbs that glow steadily along the wall, each point of light like a story. That’s what memories are, I suppose – personal stories, good and bad, collected within our minds, tucked away in that room. And for a brief moment, a small sliver of time spent at BEDRUMPLAii 2, that room is brought to life, and guests are given the chance to shed some of the memories that have come to haunt them, to an extraordinarily cathartic effect.
BEDRUMPLAii 2 is the successor to 2018’s Bedrumplai, created by performer Keight Leighn and staged in her bedroom. BRP2 also takes place at times in a bedroom, except this one is in an apartment shared by Leighn and her ineffable costar and co-creator Elisabeth Stranathan. The performance, if you can even call it that – it is such an effortless interaction amongst three souls – takes place in two parts, equally spent with each person. Leighn is the vessel in which you place your stories, the painful kind you don’t often tell (the play is subtitled The Story of You for good reason), and Stranathan is the blank page from which your new self, now cleansed of the things that formerly shamed you, will now burst forth. It’s the kind of gently uncomfortable yet freeing experience that is the very foundation of immersive theater, and no pair seems to grasp this concept in the powerful way that Leighn and Stranathan do.
To attempt to describe it: Keight and Beth both exist in this enviable state of being, a world that is so possible that you can reach out and grab it, and you should. It’s not theater, you can’t label it that, because even immersive theater has a sense of unreality to it, and this is so, so real. The show asks why poetry is necessary, which is clever, because BRP2 itself is poetry, true and beautiful, slowly turning in perpetual motion. There is no tension, no real pressure to perform, only a sense of willingness to be.
There’s no content to reveal, since you make the content yourself in the form of this sort of existential evaluation of the self with two talented, eager listeners. Leighn is in her usual top form, her generous smile and warm company easing her guests into an openness that’s often hard to achieve in these kinds of scenarios, let alone outside of them. Stranathan brings such artistry to her role that it transcends her own performance; her creative abilities seem to pass on to the participant, allowing for a shared, poetic channel to spring up between them.
I left BRP2 full of hope and clarity – a sensation that is so often fleeting in the wide, troubling world. It made me want to write, to create, to exist fully. More than anything, I wanted to cling to this sense of self with everything I have so it doesn’t slip away again. I wanted to gift this feeling to as many people as I could, to open the doors to the room in my mind at long last and say look, it’s safe in here. Fortunately, thanks to Leighn and Stranathan, there’s ample opportunity for new guests to join in this tremendous experience. The door to their room is open – it’s time to come inside.