We Are Samurai, the immersive new play written by Daria Miyeko Marinelli and directed by Ria T. DiLullo, features a hardworking cast and two of the creepiest, most mesmerizing dead cats in recent memory.
Instead of sitting passively in a chair while the story is presented on one stage, immersive works such as We Are Samurai require audience members to walk through the performance stage while various events unfold simultaneously in their own performance spaces. The audience chooses what to watch and, just as meaningfully, what to walk away from, actively channel surfing through the story with their bodies rather than a remote control.
To be sure, We Are Samurai is not just the same old story told in a new form. The story itself is beautifully dark and original and the aforementioned dead cats are central to the inciting incident. The narrative was never predictable, and the audience walked briskly from one space to the next, eager to learn what happens next.
Special credit goes to the cast, who had the daunting task of performing intricate dance-like sequences as well as passionate, intimate moments without being affected by the ebb and flow of audience members or the din of their fellow actors in other scenes. All of the actors worked extremely hard and their energy and focus were instrumental in holding the performance together as a whole. Moreover, it was especially enjoyable and refreshing to see such an ethnically diverse cast. The fact that the plot itself does not specify or require such diversity makes the casting even more admirable.
A few minor technical issues will likely be ironed out in subsequent productions, such as the low volume of some of the actors getting lost in the large performance space, as well as some curtains that needlessly blocked large chunks of the action. But overall the show was nothing short of a success, weaving together a story so compelling that it kept the audience literally on their toes.