Written by Surabi Mahe (CNN) — Actor Daniel Radcliffe, former NBA star Kyle Lowry and Mandy Moore are some of the starry names who have hit the Toronto stage this month.
At a recent media preview of Carigou , an immersive theater show now in its fourth Toronto run, Radcliffe, Moore and Lowry all joined the cast for a photo-op on stage alongside director Rae Spoon.
“I’ll take all the selfie requests I can get,” Spoon joked to CNN.
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Over three floors of a converted warehouse near Dundas Square, Radcliffe, Moore and Lowry are among a cast of nearly 50, dressed in period costumes or in a 1970s hockey jersey, as actors invite the audience to take on a pair of shoes to explore a location somewhere near Victorian Toronto.
They’ve created a sort of time capsule as they create the hidden path with props that this past performance called “the Mackenzie area” to suggest a wintry ‘70s.
Actor Ron Cephas Jones, who appeared on “This Is Us” and plays Radcliffe’s father, pointed out the bag of cans.
“That’s the meal you get in Carigou,” he said. “That’s just the evening there and we’re still all in our coats. That’s the morning.”
Some of the improvisation within the play stems from community. Customers fill out a survey before going in and get involved in some of the characters’ storylines, like Cephas Jones, who has also acted with Spoon.
“Whenever we have a conversation in the improv session, it’s not with a script, because we’re mostly improvising, and I say something like, ‘What are you planning to do? What’s the plan? What’s your plan?” he said.
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The audience may also get drawn into some of the characters’ storylines, but the realism also goes a step further.
“I think all of us have either lived in the first world, second world, third world, or live in such ridiculous poverty,” Cephas Jones said. “I’m living in that, and the audience walks in and they think, ‘Oh this guy is just talking to himself. That’s OK.’ But when they listen to me, they find out it’s not OK.”
A bit of the audience is also portraying the ghosts in Carigou by inserting themselves into the story. “We have ghosts too,” Spoon said. “There’s a lot of characters in the show, and you can sometimes disappear into the other characters’ shoes.”
In the present, Spoon said they often provide “an extra filter, a fly-on-the-wall perspective in the play, telling stories about the characters, about the times we’ve been living in, the characters’ stories and who are we as the audience.
“Our perspective can be their a**holes, their death fantasies, their sexual fantasies. We can tell stories about the we are as the audience members.”
As an actor, said Spoon, these things are part of the job.