Don't miss 'The Nest,' the best live-action video game in Los Angeles

Don't miss 'The Nest,' the best live-action video game in Los Angeles

8/4/2021 11:04:00 AM

Don't miss 'The Nest,' the best live-action video game in Los Angeles

'The Nest' is billed as immersive theater, but it's really an exploration-focused video game. Think 'Gone Home,' but sprung to life.

AdvertisementKey to the world-building of “The Nest” is the way in which the storage unit was filled — many of Josie’s things were purchased from actual liquidated storage units, and the finds themselves helped create the story. When the team came across some school lockers, for example, they decided to use them to capture how Josie spent her days at class daydreaming of the natural world beyond the walls by surrounding them with greenery.

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“The space is a representation of Josie’s mind,” says Leinenveber. “When you first go in, there are several locked doors, but as you progress the story you’re unlocking decades or chapters of her life, going along the ride with her as she pieces together her own life.”

“The Nest” keenly understands that a home isn’t defined by any one era or decade, but by a culmination of newly purchased trinkets and hand-me-down items, the latter often more priceless to their owner. It also understands that one object or memory can conjure a nostalgic world in our imaginations.

“We don’t know Josie,” says Lantz. “We never see Josie, but we’re finding all these objects, we’re hearing her voice and we’re putting together the story of her in our head. People then kind of create her in the image of their own mother or their sister or a friend. Just like when you’re reading a book. It’s the same idea here. It feels personal learning about her life because she’s not just a random character. She just lives in your head.”

One of the hidden rooms in “The Nest,” a video game inspired show running through the end of the month.(Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times)AdvertisementIn “The Nest,” what a Lite-Brite means to Josie is no less important than what it may mean to you. And somewhere amid the collection of toys, objects, letters, books, notebooks, plushies and holiday lights will be something that will likely stoke some memory. “The power of seeing an object from your childhood can transport you to the exact place, the exact smells,” Leinenveber says. “The smallest details are transportive.”

We’re prodded along the story via audiotapes, and as we listen to Josie’s aural journals multiple love stores unfold, ones that touch on various fears — loneliness, commitment — as well as her personal passions and hobbies, some that went unexplored. It allows attendees to get a sense of the various crossroads Josie faced, and where she played it safe or where she embraced the unknown. There is, of course, a melancholic bent, but that’s clear from the start, as we know we’re investigating a storage unit of someone who died alone, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t die full of life.

There is no great drama in “The Nest,” and that may be the key to its success. Josie isn’t revealed to have lived some double life. She was normal, like most of us, and struggled, like all of us, and this is ultimately one of the core appeals of stories that unfold via an environment. They don’t need standard beginnings, middles and ends because they’re primarily narratives designed to inspire our own thoughts and conversations.

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Think of those early pandemic Zoom calls when we finally got a peek into the home of a co-worker or an acquaintance via a video chat and tried to conjure the narrative of their lives by their surroundings. “The Nest” is sort of like that, but without the awkward conversation and stifling screen, allowing us to roam free in a small space. The relatively light but downcast tone allows for room to contemplate the story without worrying about a complicated plot, and time to linger and wonder about tangible objects.

Advertisement“At the heart of it all is this sad, but beautiful, story about a very particular life,” Nelson says. “Which makes it novelistic in a way that so fewanythingsare these days.”“The Nest” is the rare piece of immersive theater to be recognized with an award from the Themed Entertainment Assn., which has lauded New York’s site-specific theatrical production “Sleep No More” but more famously recognizes work at major theme parks such as those from Disney and Universal.

Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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