TurnKey Theatre has been finding creative auditory theatre experiences for audiences to enjoy since their company debuted during the pandemic in 2020. IRIS & THE AXE, their newest show is yet another entry into their creative canon. This play is a “gothic choose your own adventure murder mystery” which makes it a perfect show for those that want to celebrate the spooky season while cuddled up with a nice cup of tea. IRIS & THE AXE available on-demand October 1 – 31st.
IRIS & THE AXE is a new variation on Turnkey’s audio theatre enhanced by creative props that you interact along with model – now there is a choose your own adventure wild ard to the story. So depending on how the majority of the group votes you could have an entirely different experience than the people who saw the show prior.
The show follows Iris, a widowed woman in 1870 who has recently married a wealthy man named Charles Cypress. After their honeymoon, they return to his family estate, which is naturally a dramatic house located in a remote area in Northern California where she has only her husband and his servants for company. As she explores the grounds she uncovers some things that trouble her, and cause her to question her husband, what she is experiencing, and her safety.
As Iris discovers things and interacts with servants like her maid Ivy, and the cook Mrs. Stenson, she learns clues that inform and entice the audience to make the next choice.
This show is a murder mystery and delves into dangerous, and even potentially magical or supernatural territory. So it’s imperative that you choose wisely, if you do not you might find yourself as Iris at a very dangerous conclusion.
Depending on how you read the choose your own adventure novels as a kid, you already know what kind of choices you will probably make in this situation. Considering how I almost always died immediately when reading these books as a child, I realized my chances of doom were very high. What can I say? I make foolish decisions in the name of a good adventure.
There is a book that is also important to make the (hopefully less deadly) choices; “Floriography: The Secret Language of Flowers in the Victorian Era.” The book is a lovely illustrated guide that explains how 19th-century women used different flowering plants to secretly send messages and explain their emotions. In this case, the book is also used to decipher clues that help inform the decisions she (aka you as the audience) makes. The book is available through Turnkey if you want to follow along and find the clues along with Iris.
Katie Turner who wrote and directed the piece also serves as the Narrator guiding the audience through the story and to the pivotal decision points. The 90-minute drama features two pre-filmed chapters at each decision point that takes the story in different directions. The play is told through watercolor illustrations of the characters and the locations by Kay De, along with the voice cast of Marisa Taylor Scott as Iris, Jamie Boyd as the maid Ivy, Kaivan Mohsenzadeh as Charles, Carla BaNu De Jesus as the cook Mrs. Stenson, Prosper Phongsaiphonh as the butler Crenshaw, and Marissa Miller as Mrs. Hawkins.
The sound and effects by Andrew Gutierrez are very good at setting the mood and working with the voice cast to create the best audio atmosphere. Video by Adam Parrocha ensures that no matter what choices you make you have a clearly told story.
You can watch performances of IRIS & THE AXE on-demand streaming from Oct. 1 through Oct. 31. Tickets are $25 and available at turnkeytheatre.com/iris
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