Review: Loveseat Gives Us a Innovative Look at Theatre in Virtual Reality

This morning I got the following email with detailed instructions from the producers of Loveseat, Double Eye Productions:

Dear Lovely Humans (and your respective digital avatars),

We look forward to seeing you today for the live show from the Venice Biennale. Our schedule has been shifted, so most importantly, the show will start at 4:30 p.m. CET. Today will be a live dress rehearsal for press and industry in the room, and VIPs like yourselves online. We will whitelist (give you access) to the event domain in High Fidelity around 30 minutes beforehand so you can get settled. The domain name to connect to (using the GOTO button) is: loveseat.

If you are unfamiliar with High Fidelity, you will receive a follow up email with detailed instructions on how to access the show easily. If you have any questions, please respond to this email, and we will do our best to help you out as fast as possible!

Excited to see you and your avatars soon,

The Loveseat Team

So, armed with all this useful information, I was able to join the Loveseat domain and take my seat while the actors got set up:

A picture of the Loveseat stage as the company sets up (the screen behind the stage shows you the audience watching the event at the Venice International Film Festival)

I noticed that for some reason, I couldn’t switch my microphone away from my Oculus Rift headset to my USB headphones (I decided to attend via desktop rather than in VR), so I just decided to leave myself muted. As it turns out, this was a deliberate decision by the producers to have the audience muted (which makes perfect sense). So I settled for using the emotes in my emote app to wave and clap!

The three actors started off with a dance performance in real life, which we could see on the screen at the back of the stage. Then they put on their VR headsets to start the show! The emcee, named Bartholomew Best, kept a running commentary to engage the audience and introduce them to the game show, called (of course!) Loveseat:

We are then introduced to our two game show contestants, Abby the beekeeper and Bruce the hedge trimmer, where the sets rose up smoothly from the stage floor:

After that, I decided to focus on the play, rather than try to capture pictures or report on the proceedings. I won’t give away any more of the plot, in case you want to see the show yourself! The actors made clever use of the tools available to them in High Fidelity to enhance the performance, things you could never hope to see on a real-life stage!

The show was enjoyable, and I can recommend it, especially if you are the kind of person who is interested in what makes relationships work. The actors had their lines down, and obviously had spent a lot of time learning how best to animate their avatars for this performance. Overall, the production was really well done! If you want a taste of what VR theatre looks and sounds like, Loveseat is the perfect introduction.

If you are interested in catching this show, you must first buy a (free) ticket via EventBrite, giving your High Fidelity user name (so if you haven’t created a HiFi account before, you will have to do that before you try to buy a ticket. Loveseat runs daily until Sept, 7th, 2019.

Loveseat: A Theatrical Comedy VR Experience Taking Place in High Fidelity and at the Venice International Film Festival

Loveseat, a theatrical comedy VR experience, will be taking place on the social VR platform High Fidelity, with performances running from Aug. 27th to Sept. 7th, 2019. According to Eventbrite description:

Join the virtual audience in a ground-breaking theatrical VR experience.

Loveseat is a virtual reality comedy making its World Premiere at the 76th Venice International Film Festival and will be the first ever live play performed simultaneously to virtual and real world audiences.

The story: Two lonely, ordinary people are drawn into a reality show competition to win the love of a Perfect Partner (who looks an awful lot like an empty chair).

Part-story, part-interaction between virtual and real worlds, the actors perform simultaneously in front of a live audience in Venice and a virtual audience from around the world, connected thanks to the social VR platform, High Fidelity.

We hope you’ll join us for an hour of interactive, immersive VR theater starting August 27th.

Well, it is nice to know that High Fidelity has not completely abandoned its events programming! Mind you, this was probably all set up well in advance of the company’s abrupt pivot away from the consumer market and the shut-down of almost all of its event programming in April 2019. So this might be the last such event of its type in High Fidelity for quite some time. Although there is still an events calendar on their official website, it’s noticeably lacking the big-ticket events which the pre-pivot HiFi was known for, such as the FUTVRE LANDS Festival last November.

Loveseat is a production of Double Eye Studios of New York. This show grew out of Alive in Plasticland‘s one and a half years of experimentation with live actors in VR and involves their largest team of professional improv artists yet. Agile Lens, a New York VR/AR/XR creative studio, designed the theater, props, and lighting for Loveseat, according to a tweet about this production by Alex Coulombe, who is the creative director and co-founder of Agile Lens.

See you there! You can book tickets via Eventbrite, using your High Fidelity username.