district theater review: ‘in cabaret we trust’, an immersive experience

In Cabaret We Trust, put on by DC’s first immersive theater company, TBD (“tradition be damned”) Immersive, is a truly enveloping theater experience. The show will keep you guessing where in history you have landed as you meander through the Blind Whino, a historic neighborhood church turned arts annex turned cabaret theater for the night. My head’s already spinning.

The three act show, with two intermissions that feel like mini-acts themselves, isn’t a performance you want to just kick back and passively enjoy. You will enjoy it, but In Cabaret demands a lot from its audience, and theater-goers will reap the rewards of their participation and constant attentiveness. Staged in response to the 2016 election, and inspired by interwar Germany during the Weimar Republic rule, the production feels both pioneering and historic.

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seats filling up before the show begins
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Chaseedaw Giles performing in In Cabaret We Trust

In Cabaret We Trust is set during a near future resistance movement against a conservative senator and her government, and takes place in a cabaret theater inhabited by the city’s population of artistic liberals. The show deals with the theme of nationalist politics, explored through the lens of a futuristic D.C.’s resisting liberal population, although today’s political players aren’t explicitly mentioned.

In between the three acts, audience members have the opportunity to wander through the Blind Whino, brimming with aerialists, burlesque dancers, and artists, and outside on the grounds, where fire breathers and acrobats captivate the crowd. Characters from the show also meander through the arts space during the intermissions and interact with the cabaret-goers.
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This was my favorite part of the immersive theatre adventure, the synergy between cast and spectators that never fully allowed me to rest. Theatergoers take a role somewhere between performer and audience in In Cabaret. It would have been difficult (and probably not as much fun!) to simply watch and not interact with actors who are ready to mingle with patrons of the arts!

Check out a full review in the Washington Post. The show is also scheduled to be reworked for an encore performance in the DuPont Underground this February, so there’s still an chance to catch it if you missed its run at the Blind Whino.

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me with Chaseedaw Giles, who played a lead role in In Cabaret
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a chalk artist drawing the show during intermission

xxx

 — la fille americaine

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