I’ve been reviewing theater for Salt Lake magazine for more than two years now. Along the way I’ve seen lots of great theater in this town. And all the while, people have been bugging me about this whole Sackerson thing. Sackerson is a small, innovative theater company that is making a valiant attempt to get theater out on the streets, literally. I finally saw what all the hubub was about.
Exhibit Number One: Hindsight. Hindsight is, well, super rad and unlike anything I’ve seen on the Utah Theater Scene. The immersive production, which runs through June 23, 2018, is staged at locations around downtown SLC. Here’s how it works. You meet at a bus stop on State Street, in the shadow of the LDS Church Office Building. A “stage manager” greets you and gives you a set of Skullcandy headphones that are wirelessly connected to the actors’ microphones and an Inspector Gadget style brief case carried by the stage manager. Soon you are on a UTA bus, eavesdropping on the actors and following them on a walk around downtown. You go into restaurants, stroll the streets and follow a well-crafted tale of young love by playwright Morag Shepherd.
Yeah, it’s rad.
Hindsight is a tale told in reverse. On the bus, we meet Lorraine (played, on the night I saw it, by Mary C. Nikols) a young Mormon girl who is talking to her mom about a romantic dilemma. At the Pie Hole, we meet Ford, (Shawn Francis Saunders) a puckish urban farmer wooing Lorraine. We then meet Chase (Brandt Garber), the third side of our love triangle, a narcissistic Mormon boy also vying for Lorraine’s affections. The city itself is a character. Walking through downtown, we’re immersed in a lovely tale of the trials and pitfalls of young love. Music swells in our ears as the actors meet and part, meet and part. Again, again it is SUPER RAD.
And although much of my attention was on the gimmick—the headphones and movement through the city, the soundscape in my ears—Hindsight is also a very good play. Morag Shepherd’s keen dialogue is spot on, real, funny and, at times, raw. She is especially adept at bringing in the unique aspects of the Mormon culture that are part of the fabric of life here in Utah. To be clear, this isn’t a “Mormon play” but it touches on aspects of Mormonism with a deft hand. For example, the character Chase is caught up in his own elevated sense of responsibility and power as a man in the church, which is a thing.
I remember being that Mormon boy, living with this powerful sense of destiny in a cosmic fight against good and evil that young Mormon men are indoctrinated with. You are told that you are a soldier in the Army of God in the fight against Satan. For real. For young Mormons, life is not some cosmic accident. You are here on Earth with a purpose to fulfill, righteous war to wage. It’s a message that seeps easily into a young man’s mind. It’s romantic and, frankly, kind of badass, it makes you feel special and important. Unlike the rest of the world, you are a part of something bigger, massive, dangerous even. It’s like Walter Mitty on steroids. The flip side is that you do a lot of dumbass, misogynistic, and just plain wrong things because of this sense of entitlement. It also comes with a lot of pressure, guilt and shame. Shepherd nails this and many other uniquely Utah things in her excellent script.
The actors I saw (there are two casts) handled the words well and also handled necessary improvisations and vamps that are part of a play that has us all waiting for lights, trains, interacting with restaurant patrons, etc.
Do not miss this production. There are two performances a night through June 23. For details, tickets and more info visit sackerson.org