By Alex Grosset, Arts and Entertainment
24/4-I recently had the honor of attending the grand opening of the New Empress Theatre in Oeil de Fleur, and while the show I attended, “Fires of D’kalm D’korr” is still the same steaming pile of popular garbage that it was last year, I am happy to report that the venue is better than ever.
The first thing I noticed was that, despite being built on the same lot and constructed to roughly the same size, the new theatre is a veritable cavern compared to the old. The previous Empress theatre had a lower roof to accommodate an attic for the storage of props. This new build features a two level basement, allowing the auditorium to extend to all the way to roof level. Likewise, dressing rooms and management offices have been moved underground as well, allowing a larger stage to allow for more dynamic sets and larger casts.
The play itself, while still terrible in terms of its subject matter, used this extra space to increase its spectacle. The larger stage allowed for more impressive battle scenes, and new lighting rigs both on stage and throughout the auditorium immersed the audience during Hostander Alleroy’s nighttime soliloquy in the second act. Unfortunately, I fear these technological advances will only endorse more vapid spectacle in the future, rather than good storytelling. Still, I have hopes that with the right playwright and director, this extra space and lighting could be employed to riveting effect.
The seating, likewise, has undergone a major improvement. Seats on the floor are now arranged in a semi-circle around the stage, similar to the concert hall in Yves, so that even attendees on the outer edges get a good view of the stage. Balcony seating is constructed similarly, and the higher ceiling offers a third row. The seats have all been upholstered using soft leather, ensuring greater longevity and a decreased chance of spreading lice, I am told. I heard others grumbling about discomfort, and the noise of people shifting their weight (at one point, such shifting resulted in a noise not unlike flatulence, disrupting what I am told is meant to be a key emotional beat) but I had no such complaints.
All in all, I had an enjoyable experience. The new theatre is beautifully constructed, both inside and out, and I found much amusement during intermission and after the play, picking apart its short comings with my fellow critics. The only blight on the evening was the protest outside, deriding Delando for his deception aboard the Heisenberg. I would have joined them, but for entirely different reasons.