Sometimes we encounter dark forces hidden within the brightest of places. And quite often, you'll discover beauty in spaces that are utterly devoid of light. So it is that the glorious new PARTICLE INK: Speed of Dark takes place inside a worn-out industrial building. And that blackened old warehouse rests in the shadows of a glistening new ENGLISH HOTEL.
How do I say enough about PARTICLE INK: Speed of Dark to generate excitement without spoiling the mysteries within? Let's start by sharing the official description as provided by its creators:
"Speed of Dark is a live immersive experience from the Particle Ink metaverse. A mind-bending blend of acrobatics, street art, hip-hop dance, and mixed reality. Explore an abandoned warehouse that is a portal into the 2.5th dimension - that weird place between being awake and asleep, where the rabbit waits before being pulled out of the hat."
It's tough not to gush about something so absolutely daring, gutsy, innovative, and meaningful as SPEED OF DARK. The buzz has been nearly deafening, with colleagues and friends who have attended it universally singing its praises. Perhaps I was a little skeptical over yet another "immersive experience" after my recent visits to Illuminarium and The Portal (both at AREA 15). Each is a solid entry and well worth your time, yet a third stroll down the virtual-reality corridor didn't seem all that appealing. My mistake.
PARTICLE INK: Speed of Darkness 1
The premise of SPEED OF DARK introduces "The Creator" as its central figure. An emotion-drenched artist racked by a horrible tragedy, he goes on a personal quest in order to reconcile the imbalance between darkness and light. This protagonist unlocks a portal to the in-between dimension by way of a magic ritual. As his struggle takes center stage, those feelings appear to manifest themselves into physical beings. It's all quite surreal and open to interpretation. How you follow that journey might affect your perception of the outcome.
PARTICLE INK Speed of Dark 2
The story begins outdoors as a Muppet-like narrator introduces you to the halfway dimension you're about to enter. "Creator" walks through the crowd and bangs on the door, which opens at his will. You follow him through various chambers to a ceremony in which light is the guide. From there, a number of scenes take place in which human beings interact with animated characters (Lumens) that dance, fly, and climb throughout the settings. Hard to describe, but a stunning feat of technological beauty. Watch the above clip and you might start to understand.
PARTICLE INK promo vid
At the mid-point of the performance, guests are invited to explore and gather clues that help The Creator to achieve his goal. Those answers might be found by using flashlights to uncover hidden messages. You'll encounter a dreamer who finds herself caught up in a literal whirlwind...one that takes her to the edge of reality and back again. You may wander into a chamber where God-like beings battle for supremacy, that duel visible only through an electronic "magic mirror" (see above).
After exploring on their own, guests are gathered back to the main chamber to witness the finale, a joyous celebration of life and possibilities. It's a big-screen blockbuster come to life, complete with an amazing soundtrack specifically written for SPEED OF DARK (you can listen to it on Spotify by going HERE).
One of Particle Ink's designers told me that SPEED OF DARK was originally set to open in New York City more than two years ago. Then a certain shutdown took place and everything was stored away, waiting for the right time and place. The Big Apple's loss is Sin City's gain, as the show has now been extended through August. That's a major achievement for any production, but especially one as unique and artistic as this.
Thank goodness Las Vegas has opened its arms to yet another magnificent experience. Let's hope it remains here for years to come.
PARTICLE INK: Speed of Dark is located at The Lighthouse, 918 S. Main Street across from ENGLISH HOTEL. The show performs Wednesday through Sunday at 7 pm and 9 pm. Tickets are $49.50 (plus taxes/fees) and can be ordered here. Guests must be 11 or over, and those under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. An interactive outdoor exhibit precedes entry, so guests are encouraged to arrive early. Free on-street parking is available in the immediate area.