“All I want out of art and life is for my guts and my brains to collide. It’s the feeling of going on a roller coaster. My guts knowing I am going to die and my brain explaining that if they killed too many people, the insurance rates would be too high.” – Penn Jillette
Art is subjective. Theater… music… anything in a frame… yes, even theme parks… all fall under the umbrella of ‘art’ for me. It should make you laugh, make you cry, make you think; sometimes good art will even make you uncomfortable.
The very idea of Drip, located smack in the middle of squeaky-clean Orlando, should make it stand out like a red-headed stepchild in our family-friendly mecca. Born in the mind of David Traver, musical director for The Blue Man Group, Drip tells its story entirely through sensual dance and music – a grunge-rock score that echoes the Blue Man soundtrack (minus the PVC pipes).
Like the Blue Man experience, Drip happens in a space where the ‘fourth wall’ doesn’t exist. There are no seats – the entire building is the stage. Thus: no ‘safe zone’.
A word of warning for prospective patrons: dress pre-emptively. The dancer/performers use water, sand and paint to tell their story and since they get doused, you probably will, too. The entire building is considered a splash zone and anything you’re wearing can end up with splatters of (water-based) paint on it. It’s all part of the experience and you even have to sign a waiver before you can enter the lobby, stating that the management is not responsible for any damage to clothing that might get stained.
That said, some people wear white clothing to the show just so it can get splattered with paint… a one-of-a-kind souvenir, of sorts!
Drip tells its story with only a small live band and four dancers – no dialogue. Each scene presents one stage in the arc of a dating relationship: guy meets girl, girl falls in love, guy cheats, girl goes through hell, girl moves on. Sounds like a laugh-a-minute, right? Just like life, it isn’t. It’s not meant to be.
Did I care for the story? Not particularly. Did I enjoy having water, paint and sand flung in my direction for an hour? No, but I was dressed appropriately and emerged unharmed. Is the artistic thrill-seeker in me happy I went? 100% yes. The experience was definitely worth any minor discomfort.
I can’t stress enough how unconventional this show is; that’s what I enjoyed about it. Drip is an experience you can’t get anywhere else. But it’s not for everybody. Leave the kids at home. Grandma, too.
As my treat, I took a few friends to experience Drip with me and for all of us it was our first time. I told my friends everything I knew about the show: standing room only, about an hour long, paint/water, etc. After we checked in I could tell two of my friends were not crazy about the set up – and the show hadn’t come close to starting.
Right at the beginning you come to a table with 4 jars of paint. Each color represents personality traits, sort of like a horoscope, and you are encouraged to pick up a brush and paint yourself with whatever color you think best defines you. Some chose to paint their hat or shirt; some chose to paint their face or cleavage – or that of their partner. It’s a gentle nudge from the management: start getting messy now, it will be much easier later on.
The next room is a dive bar where the bartenders specialize in serving blue, green, orange and yellow beer (Good lord – it’s a theme!). The four actors enter and mingle, blending with the crowd.
A spotlight picks out the cast and the music gets a little louder as they get into party mode: dancing, laughing and spilling their drinks. The two girls climb up on the bar, grab two champagne bottles and douse the audience (with water). I noticed my friends weren’t exactly amused by this.
About 60 seconds later, the bartenders pull out 4 pitchers filled with red, orange, blue and yellow ‘beer’ (more water). Our group gets the full batch of blue slung right at us – and I get it right in the face. I take a second look at my friends, who announce, “We are out of here,” and head straight for the exit. Two minutes of pre-show was enough for them.
The point of getting the audience doused – and, in some cases, soaked – is simple: it’s quicker and more fun to jump into the pool than sticking just your toes in. And after this ‘baptism’ the audience is free to enjoy the main show without fearing they’ll get any wetter, because they won’t. They couldn’t.
In the main showroom there are chandeliers of paint cans hanging over the playing area: a large pit of sand. The cans occasionally rain down either water or paint and as the characters dance some of the sand gets flung in the air and occasionally lands on you. But what you get hit with in the main show is nothing compared to the pre-show.
My advice is this: If you live through the pre-show (and I think you will; the survival rate is pretty high) stick around for the rest. You will experience something you’ll remember – and talk about – for weeks.
The types of people who attend Drip are diverse. We saw lots of couples and one ‘girl’s night out’ group that embraced the show better than anyone else in the room. They loved getting splattered and danced and partied along with cast.
As with any new entertainment experience, I like to hover around the exit to hear people’s reactions to what they just saw. Not one person came out with a look of disappointment on their face. Everyone was laughing and dancing their way out of the theater and I knew that Drip accomplished what it set out to do: get people talking about their experience. It’s truly unique. And the proof is in the pudding – they are sold out most nights at least two weeks in advance with very little advertising. Word of mouth is selling tickets. And those words are loud and clear: you must try this for yourself.
Immersive theater is like riding a roller coaster. You can watch video of it, you can have friends and bloggers like me try to describe it to you – but to get the full effect? You need to get down to International Drive and experience it for yourself.
Does it sound like a show you would be interested in? Or do you think it would be outside your ‘comfort zone’? And how likely would you be to try it, in spite of your misgivings?
P.S. – One of my friends who left early complained that the performer was smirking as she threw the ‘beer’ at our group. I have given some thought to what the proper facial expression would be when intentionally flinging water at a complete stranger and haven’t come up with one yet. If you can demonstrate a suitable expression for such an occasion – leave a picture of it in the comments section below. The world is waiting.