Brandon and I had the chance to see “Here Lies Love” at the Seattle Rep. This “Revolutionary Musical Experience from David Byrne & Fatboy Slim” is one of the best productions I’ve seen in Seattle in many years. If standing/dancing for 90 minutes for you isn’t an issue, I strongly suggest buying the standing ticket seats so that you can be a part of the immersive theater experience on the floor. For those not comfortable or able to stand for that long, we’ve had friends who sat for the show and also thoroughly enjoyed it.
It’s a history lesson wrapped up in an immersive dance party. It’s a timely and emotional tale of the life of Imelda Marcos and her husband Ferdinand (Ferdinand was the 10th President of the Philippines). It starts out as a dance party and the show includes the audience for many dance moments throughout the show. I found it incredibly strange to break into dance during or directly after moments that focused on poverty, scarcity, fear, power struggles, and other upsetting moments in the story of Imelda’s life and the struggle of the people of the Philippines. This juxtaposition was incredibly powerful, showing how we so often learn of the struggles of others, then turn a blind eye and stay comfortably within our own bubbles. The floor seats in the Seattle Rep have all been removed and the staging, lighting, and visuals are really fantastic. The voices of the cast are truly incredible. I was blown away.
I asked on my personal Facebook page what others thought of the show. Here’s what some friends and friends-of-friends had to say:
“The show was incredible! I think the cast of “Here Lies Love” was one of the top three casts I’ve seen in the past few years – right up there with the original Broadway cast of Hamilton and Allegiance! I loved that it was immersive. It also struck a balance between being entertaining yet making you feel uncomfortable plus a history lesson to boot!”
“A few things: The most remarkable immersive theater I’ve ever experienced. I laughed, cried, sang karaoke and line danced. I think each type of ticket has pros and cons. I had to sit for most of it because of some physical issues and was every bit as happy as my friends who stood (and got herded around throughout the show). The stagecraft and costuming are truly exceptional. Not that the cast and writer/director team don’t deserve a ton of credit; they absolutely do. But when I talk about the show, I talk at least as much about the dresses and multimedia pieces as I do the actors.”
“My favorite thing about “Here Lies Love” was the incredible cast—top notch singing, acting, and dancing from everyone. And Filipino actors actually playing Filipinos! As a Filipino American, I can’t tell you how much that means to me. I watched “Here Lies Love” from the floor, and while I enjoyed the innovative staging, I did feel like not all of the stage moves were necessary. I’m going to watch the show again from the gallery to see how the experience is different. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos plundered the Philippines and were responsible for the execution and torture of thousands of people. “Order 1081” was a powerful song about martial law, but I wish there had been more about how the Philippine people suffered under the Marcos regime. “Here Lies Love” makes Imelda Marcos much too sympathetic. I hope that “Here Lies Love” encourages more people to learn about the true history of the Philippines and the Filipino people.”
“I loved how the audience was encouraged to participate at whatever level they were comfortable with. The choreography of everyone, including the stagehands and audience wranglers, assisted in making the setting a safe space for all. We were welcomed to this amazing, dazzling world that was a visual and audible delight. Totally worth the cost of admission. One of my top five theatre experiences.”
“I loved this out of the box (or seats!) experience, we felt like we were a part of the show. At one point, Imelda was singing directly to my husband, and we were both swooning. It was an amazing experience that I would happily see again. Bravo Seattle Rep, hope to see more unique shows like this in the future.”
-Tiffany Middleton Jessup
“The best immersive theatre experience I have ever, well…experienced! A feat of technological and human staging that was so well executed, I am still thinking about it many days later. I am so glad I saw it from the floor and cannot wait to go back and experience it again.”
“Get ready to move and be moved, this immersive show encourages dance. This can be challenging and even overwhelming, but it is worth it . . . it is just a bit overambitious and asks a bit much of its audience, but the immersive experience is unique and totally worth it despite its shortcomings . . . perhaps most importantly, I don’t think it quite deals adequately with the abuses of the regime it sets forth as a hero(ine) for most of the show, then vilifies at the end (though I do enjoy some moral ambiguity). Despite all that, I think it has great songs and costumes, hits some good emotional notes, is interesting and a lot of fun, and makes for a totally worthwhile theater experience. Imperfect, but a very solid B+ despite its flaws. Also, I will consume anything David Byrne does with glee.”
– Isaac Kaplan-Woolner
Have you seen the show? Join the conversation and share your review on this Facebook post.
“Here Lies Love” plays The Seattle Repertory Theatre in Seattle Center and has been extended through June 18, but I hear tickets are going fast. Details and tickets here.
Photos by Navid Baraty via Seattle Repertory Theatre