Combustible Company’s Bluebeard’s Dollhouse

Artwork by Weiying Zhu

Artwork by Weiying Zhu

A preview of the new immersive theater experience coming to St. Paul.

Fairy-tales and murder mysteries are two genres that are normally not paired together, but are coming together to create a fantastic theater performance. Coming from the Combustible Company, Bluebeard’s Dollhouse is an immersive theater experience that will be taking place at the historic James J. Hill House in St. Paul. Combustible Company is a fairly new theater company whose mission is to “use actors’ physicality to create visceral performances that spark the imagination and ignite conversation.” Bluebeard’s Dollhouse will be their second evening-length production after their first production called Herocycle which was performed in 2013.

Bluebeard’s Dollhouse mixes the stifling relationship of Nora and Torvald from Henrik Ibsen’s A Doll’s House and the murderous tales of Charles Pernault’s Bluebeard with the audience following them every step of the way. Instead of sitting in a seat, audience members will walk with the cast through the house as the story unfolds around them.  Kym Longhi, the director and writer of Bluebeard’s Dollhouse, speaks to the psychological nature of this performance and “the beauty that may be found in the strange”.  She has melded these two stories to hit on overarching themes of gender roles and labeling, specifically how those two come into play within relationships. Longhi also asks for the audience “to be open to a new experience of theater, and to view the scenes as pieces of a puzzle that can be assembled in multiple ways.”  She hopes that audiences will trust themselves to interpret the “theatrical clues” that they see in every room, and that they will think about it long after the show is over.

Combustible Company aims to challenge the audience to think more deeply about the space that they are in. By setting the performance in the historic James J. Hill House, the audience steps into the high class societal status that Bluebeard lives in and are transported to a different time and space. Although most fairy tales accomplish this transportation of readers through their imagination, the audience will now be able to engage in this fantastical setting in person.

Bluebeard’s Dollhouse will start showing on September 30 and will run through October 15 with two shows every Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and 9:30 PM.