We did a preview show. It was terrifying, and not because of the macabre themes. We didn't know how it would go because so much is dependent on how the audience behaves within the experience. Hence why we knew we had to do a preview show. We've had people come in to rehearsals to get their reactions and feedback but to do it in the house with a full audience was intense and fun and weird.
In all the years we've all done theatre we conclusively agreed that we have never felt anything like it. We never knew where the audience would be, if they would move out of our way, how they would try to interact with us or if they wouldn't at all. In the Q&A afterwards people said it was their favorite thing to be able to get in close and eavesdrop like they were invisible. I found that to be the most challenging part of acting in it, to try to be oblivious of them. I found this particularly difficult to do when I was so concerned about...
The Puzzles! Talk about an unknown component. The back of my brain could hear them finding and trying things, talking about solutions and about us, yet we could never look at them to see what they were doing. One of the strangest things was their shifting attention. I never knew if they'd hear our clues, follow a scene, leave to go search for puzzles. In the Q&A one particular thing was fascinating. Several people said they didn't care about the character's as much but that they wanted to focus on the puzzles. Others said the exact opposite, they didn't need the escape room element they just wanted to listen in on the story unfolding. Luckily most agreed that they fit together well.
We learned loads from doing the test show. We'll be making adjustments to help it evolve into the most engaging experience possible. But, the main thing we learned is...it works! I can't wait for us to do it again on opening night tomorrow.