By: Kayla Caldwell
When I saw the two-part play for The Cursed Child, * I thought it was the most magical show I'd ever seen. Well, that was big budget magic. What Woolf and the Wondershow have accomplished with CAGES is truly impressive. Inspirations can be seen, from Tim Burton to the book The Giver, but as a whole, CAGES is something all its own.
CAGES, directed by David Richardson, Benjamin Romans, and CJ Baran, is a musical like none you've seen before. From the moment you walk in the door, you are transported to Anhedonia, where emotions are forbidden, and hearts are locked away in cages. The decor is dark, moody, and very much this goth girl's vibe. The bar is themed, which happens to be my favorite kind. The chemist offers emotional mixology with options of love, lust, desire, sadness, grief, despair, fear, and anger. Surprising myself, I chose anger, which was glenlivet 14, laphroaig 10, lemon ginger, sage honey, lapsang tea, burnt chrysanthemum - and delicious.
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A loudspeaker announcement tells everyone to report to the execution. The show's about to begin. Walking down the hallway to the theater, you see that everything is set-dressed. There are rooms you can explore, little holes you can peek into. The cast mingles with you, and you can ask them questions and follow clues to add more depth to the story.
The music, written by Baran & Romans, as well as recorded and produced in their apartments, is wildly catchy. I've already looked up if it's streaming (yes!), because the songs are stuck in my head, and I want more. The costuming (Mildred Von) is vintage and Burton-feeling, and perfect with the vibe of the show. The visuals and lighting (R.S. Buck, Chu Hsuan Chang, Litemakers) are stunning, and well-worth the price of admission. In fact, they were so good, the drunk bro behind me couldn't stop yelling, "That's so cool!" in five minute increments throughout the beginning of the show.
America's Next Top Model alum Allison Harvard is dreamy and mesmerizing as Madeline, who feels like a kindred spirit with A Nightmare Before Christmas's Sally, with unforgettable vocals by Frida Sundemo. Applause also goes to co-director Baran, who also leads the show as Woolf. Harvard's performance is recorded, so at many times, Baran is carrying the show - and succeeding. His acting is so physical, showing every emotion in the hunch of his back or by raising his head high. CAGES, at times, is like watching a silent film, and in those moments, Baran's body language leaves nothing to be desired.
At intermission, as I was walking back to the lobby, I was pulled into the Emotional Correctional Facility, which is honestly pretty on brand. Talk to the mingling cast when you have a chance, to really enrich the story and make you feel involved. CAGES is a hell of a night out. The show is so exciting, and beautiful, and weird. Woolf and the Wondershow have created a production that allows you to get pulled into the narrative, without it being so immersive as to scare off those not familiar with that kind of theater. (Note: The event is 21+ though.)
I'm not the biggest theater person, but if every show could be like CAGES, I would be. Of course, that's the beauty of CAGES. It's not like anything else. Check out CAGES for yourself. The site is currently showing performances on Thurdays, Fridays, and Saturdays through April 30.
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* Editor's note: we do not support the anti-trans views of she-who-must-not-be-named.