Escape into another time and place, into the fantasy world
of Charles Dickens' Victorian London.

The growing popularity of "reality television" programmesespecially PBS's "Manor House" miniseriessuggests that there may be considerable public interest for our "reality theatre" format in which the public participates in a community-wide costumed historical re-creation of the world of Charles Dickens. The project would comprise a three-day event culminating in an evening performance of our interactive dramatization: The Mystery of James Edwyn Wakefield, or Murder in the Wakefield Family.

PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre has been producing audience-participation events in the United States since 1987. The company is owned by Alan Lance Andersen and Robert Alan Cook, who write the scripts and supervise the productions. Both playwrights are professional members of Mystery Writers of America.

PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre 's "reality theatre" concept is to market travel, lodgings, fine dining, and participation theatre in one comprehensive package. We hope to work with airlines, travel agencies, caterers, innkeepers, and local entertainers. We may also work with historical societies, horse-drawn carriage operators, actors, and musicians in England to provide a reasonably authentic re-creation of Victorian life.

PALLADIAN Interactive Theatre extends the traditional dinner theatre concept to offer much more than just dinner and theatre. It also gives the audience an opportunity to participate as performers. It's more like stepping through a time machine than attending a theatre event. There are no lines to memorize, and each drama never ends the same twicebecause participants improvise their lines while attempting to achieve the goals outlined in their playbooks.

The Mystery of James Edwyn Wakefield includes elements of mystery, intrigue, romance, suspense, and adventureall the ingredients of a Dickensian novel. Audience members have the opportunity to become 19th Century characters in a number of dynamic and complex mystery plots. It is a world of Victorian ladies and gentlemen, costermongers, Scotland Yard detectives, curmudgeons, sailors, servants, villains, thieves, rascals, and a murderer or two. Participants are caught up in a whirlwind of melodramamissing documents, escaped lunatics, long-lost relatives, unspeakable crimes, ghosts in the attic, and star-crossed lovers.

The show is set during the Christmas season of 1862, and we have facsimile reprints of the Illustrated London News from that year which incorporate clues to our mystery plots. We also have facsimile Victorian "stage money" banknotes, cheque books, birth and marriage certificates, and real vintage coins.

"In traditional theater, the audience assumes a reactive role, responding to the performance in a passive fashion," writes Jeff Wirth, author of Interactive Acting: Acting, Improvisation, and Interacting for Audience Participatory Theatre. "Interactive Theatre expands the experience of the audience by offering them a proactive role, in which they are invited to join as a collaborator in the creation of the performance.

"Interactive Theatre combines the richness of rehearsed material, the spontaneity of improvisation, and the empowerment of participation," writes Wirth. "It draws on acting and improvisation techniques, as well as techniques unique to the interactive form."

John Kennedy Melling, former editor of the British crime writer's Black Dagger series, author of several mystery related books, drama critic, and BBC broadcaster, said of the Mystery of James Edwyn Wakefield, "My first impression was of the immaculate way they have prepared the package. The clever way they mingled seven compact stories held together, a winning use made of Dickens characters, names, and plots make for a compelling production, unique indeed. I stress the uniqueness, because while there are mystery companies in the States and more here in England, they are all based on only one story. I know of NOTHING here remotely approaching this scheme. TERRIFIC!"

Descriptions of Characters

Photos from Past Productions

Wakefield in Illinois

Wakefield Main Page