-Courtesy of En Route Marketing, photos by Ted Lieverman
Dragonbutter Beta Trials (Dragonbutter) is the latest creation from the creative genius behind Brian Sanders’ JUNK. With provocative and physically intense performances, Philadelphia-based, Fringe Festival favorite Brian Sanders’ JUNK creates and produces experiences that are simultaneously accessible, unpredictable, and unconventional. The new production features four local performers and is a thrilling, heart-racing, immersive hour-long experience that transports participants into the middle of a science-fiction video game adventure.
The multi-sensory experience is an ambitious project set in an 8,000-square-foot warehouse located at 200 Spring Garden Street. Dragonbutter is spread out through multiple themed rooms featuring a stunning light and sound arrangement. Each rooms challenges players with mini-riddles, dramatic physical performances, leading up to the finale- a final fight against the “Boss.”
Reminiscent of old-school video games, the story reveals itself in layers and begins when you and 11 other “players” enter the abandoned laboratory building, filled with haunting lobby music eerily playing through speakers. Next, players enter a decontamination chamber, left wondering what will happen next.
In the next room, players are introduced to Lab Assistant Verga, Herb, Professor Doghter and a lab tech named Eft (“E.F.T. for short”). They reveal that the building, formerly DEOS Labs, is set for demolition. The facility was once used by Dr. Livingston, an unconventional tinkerer who experimented with mechanical and genetic innovations far ahead of his time. As the research team examined his nonsensical scribblings and hypotheses, they found that Dr. Livingston was not only a considerable genius but also an impractical man teetering on insanity.
With the building’s security protocols and system still active, it remains unclear what, if anything, lies in the laboratory’s core. The developer has hired Verga, Herb, Professor Doghter, and E.F.T. to secure and evaluate anything that might be of interest before the building is demolished. Unfortunately, time is running out to unlock the mysteries of DEOS Labs.
Soon, technical difficulties ensue, and alarms sound, forcing the lab assistants and guests to navigate through a labyrinth of six mystery rooms as they try to find a way out, in one piece!
Throughout the experience, players explore a multitude of experimental rooms, which include live dance performances, mazes, and puzzles. Players must prepare to battle mutant creatures and gain points for completed tasks. Points can be used to upgrade equipment from “the store.” As time goes on, the intensity of Dragonbutter builds, and culminates with an exciting interactive battle with a fierce abomination of flesh and machine that swoops down on unnatural wings. For the trapped players, it’s kill or be killed. Will they fail in their quest or obtain a high score and save the day? Which also leads to the question, who could create such an extraordinary adventure?
“Inspiration for the story and project came from two primary sources. First is the location. I spent most of my time in quarantine at 200 Spring Garden Street and took on the role of a recluse mad creator of sorts,” said Brian Sanders, creator of Dragonbutter. “During the pandemic, I spent a lot of time playing RPG video games and was inspired by the artistry and the design that went into creating the games. Second, I wanted to see if I could turn “video game reality” into “real life” and put an audience inside a game.”
This July, visitors to Dragonbutter will experience just that!
Dragonbutter is recommended for children 13 and older. Each show is limited in capacity; 12 people per performance. Dragonbutter will run from July 9 through 26. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased here.
About Brian Sanders’ JUNK:
Princeton, N.J., native Brian Sanders founded JUNK in 1997 after many independent projects as a choreographer. JUNK has since become a nationally recognized troupe performing domestically, internationally, and regularly in the Philadelphia region. More information can be found by visiting https://www.briansandersjunk.com/.