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‘Seeing You’ Theater Review: Experience WWII Hoboken With Blood and Dance

The latest immersive production from the creator of ”Sleep No More“ includes Ryan Heffington’s impressive choreography

In “Seeing You,” the latest immersive theatrical experience from “Sleep No More” impresario Randy Weiner, audiences plunge themselves into Hoboken, New Jersey, on the eve of World War II — by way of a former meat market beneath Manhattan’s High Line.

We circle around various performance spaces in the darkened area, meeting a host of different characters: the uptight local congressman who hints at the development of an atomic bomb (Ted Hannan), the Japanese American schoolteacher whose dad is fighting for the Japanese (Eriko Jimbo), the closeted corporal (Nicholas Ranauro) who’s cheating on his wife with a young soldier, the African American private and budding photographer (Christopher Grant) who’s wooing a local white girl.

As in Weiner’s long-running “Macbeth”-inspired Off Off Broadway hit “Sleep No More,” the cast will occasionally interact with theatergoers, pulling them aside for tete-a-tetes or to reveal bits of plot we might have missed.

Before long, the audience is herded together for a series of scenes and vignettes that rely more on stylized performance, dance, music and ominous suggestiveness than any conventional sense of plotting.

Occasionally, the audience splits up for a series of parallel scenes, like a basic training routine with the limber male cast or a blood drive with the female players that owes more to a Vincent Price B-movie than any Army-issued newsreel. (Fair warning: There is some stage blood used in the production — some of which found its way onto my shirt — as well as strobe lighting and haze effects.)

The performances are stylized, often in an over-the-top Kabuki-like fashion that is heightened further by the spastic, balletic choreography of co-director Ryan Heffington, best known for his work on Sia’s “Chandelier” music video. Maija Knapp and Aaron Dalla Villa are particular standouts as dancers.

Although the production takes its name from the classic ’30s tune “I’ll Be Seeing You,” which is performed twice in the show, the music ranges from folk to punk to EDM.

And the actors are noticeably and anachronistically less clean-shaven than their ’40s characters would have been, particularly the soldiers. (Had they groomed themselves in a more period fashion, it also might have helped to distinguish performer from audience member.)

Perhaps it’s appropriate that like its title, “Seeing You” leans heavily on visual sensation. There’s no real emotional depth to be found here, no historical or dramatic heft. And for a show that dwells heavily on the Bomb and literally asks the question “How many civilian casualties would you be willing to accept to save 1 million American lives?” the ending is surprisingly more of a whimper than a bang.

If you have to duck into a darkened fallout shelter, it seems Hoboken’s not such a bad place to be.