New York | 0h 55m | Already closed

Paradiso: Chapter 1

From 12 critic and 17 member reviews
Members say: Ambitious, Clever, Intense, Absorbing, Confusing

About the show

Immersive theater pioneer Michael Counts created this unique experience, which marries escape-room entertainment with interactive theater. More…

Loosely inspired by 'The Divine Comedy,' 'PARADISO: Chapter 1' drops 10 audience members into a noir-styled, futuristic nightmare that they must navigate through. With a company of actors guiding the experience, 'PARADISO' features a narrative structure that makes audiences feel as if they have entered a world where the circumstances, characters, risks, and drama represent an immersive 'reality.' A multi-layered story unfolds complete with actors, 3D holographic projection technology, and special effects. From the team behind 'The Walking Dead Experience' and 'Play/Date.' Ages 13 and up only. Exact Midtown Manhattan location provided upon purchase of tickets. 

0h 55m | Already closed | Koreatown (Midtown W)


"'Paradiso: Chapter 1' takes immersive, participatory theater to a captivating whole new level — targeting escape-room enthusiasts. Freely borrowing from Dante, with a soupcon of Ridley Scott’s 'Blade Runner', 'Stranger Things' and 'Mr. Robot', 10 or less players band together and participate in a post-modern, interactive puzzle game — a new type of mind-bending immersive theater." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"Some might find such an enterprise to be hopelessly silly, but I went with it. Think of it as a life-size, 3-D interactive game board -- or, even better, as the opportunity to star in your own B movie. The clues are genuinely puzzling and it took a fair amount of group cooperation...The overall environment is extremely persuasive…'Paradiso' is probably best enjoyed by a group of friends on an evening out…'Paradiso: Chapter One' is a clever diversion. If there's a chapter two, I'll be there. " Full Review

The New York Times

“An audience-participation experience that is part puzzle, part performance, part technological razzle-dazzle. What you get out of it will depend on what you put into it, and perhaps on whom you bring along...Mr. Counts has staged some extravaganzas in the past, but here he keeps things restrained, using a relatively small cast of actors. They’re all entertaining; the technological effects are pretty good; and surprises await those who can think quickly enough to find them.” Full Review


“From the set props to the actors’ costumes, not forgetting to mention the gory and incredible moment of SFX makeup, ‘Paradiso’ is an aesthetic triumph. On the other hand, the puzzles and riddles that the experience is comprised of are mixed in quality...Ultimately, the experience of ‘Paradiso’ hinges on the group dynamic...With a group that doesn’t quite click, there is the possibility of leaving without a smile. Although it needs some fine-tuning, it is still a decent evening’s entertainment.” Full Review

Stage Buddy

“The lack of structural cohesion lies in the company’s remarkable sense of ambition. They’re trying to pull off so much...Despite all of the build up and all of the time and effort put into constructing this world, my excitement quickly gave way to frustration. The narrative drops away in deference to spectacle, and the impetus behind who or what we’re escaping becomes increasingly murky...Once his team adds a bit more narrative follow through, this just might become the talk of the town.” Full Review

Plays to See

“The traditional escape-room experience…on steroids...The last room that my group entered was my favorite. I don’t want to spoil too much, but let’s just say that there is a dead man, and I put my arms in his stomach…‘Paradiso’ wants to pack a lot of story into the game play. Yet in reality, I missed most of it because I was busy trying to solve the puzzles...Despite my complaints about 'Paradiso,' I will say one thing–it is truly immersive.” Full Review

Time Out New York

"Experiential theater fans will feel harried, and escape room aficionados will likely not find the puzzle challenging enough. Still, it's a pretty fun adrenaline rush…As someone who enjoys exploring, I found myself frustrated by the time constraint...It's also hard to stop and listen to a character's paranoid monologue when you know you could be putting keys in locks. All that said: If you ever wanted to be the protagonist in a cheesy action flick, welcome to your sandbox." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"In trying to be an escape room and an immersive theatre experience and a feast of design and special effects, 'Paradiso' doesn’t fully satisfy in any area—each element tends to obscure the others. And if you are a hard-core, no-sleep-until-solved type of puzzler, 'Paradiso' might prove more irritating than enjoyable...But for those who can take the whole thing less seriously, it's certainly an energetic, mind-whirling way to spend an hour that will provide plenty to talk about afterward." Full Review

Off Off Online

"With such a talented cast at hand, 'Paradiso' might consider developing a clearer story line and incorporating each actor further into the fabric of the experience...'Paradiso' claims to incorporate immersive theater techniques, but do not expect the same level of detail as the exquisitely designed sets of companies like Punchdrunk...If you enjoy high-pressure gaming environments, definitely attend...If immersive theater is more your thing, consider skipping this one." Full Review

Front Row Center

“I couldn’t help but wonder if they’re aiming too high. After all, the website calls it ‘the next level of the escape room drama, part immersive theater, part escape room, part existential experience.’ If that’s not a tall order, I don’t know what is. Just one of those things would have been plenty. But it seems like all we got was a clumsy stumble through of an overly ambitious undertaking, nothing more than a shallow mash-up of these exciting new genres.” Full Review

Village Voice

"Attempts to be many things: a riff on Dante's 'Divine Comedy,' an 'escape room' puzzle for spectators to solve, and a feat of technical design. These elements, alas, don't quite come together...As a theatrical experience, 'Paradiso' lacks any discernible logic. The story shards available in each room add up to little...'Paradiso' tries to straddle these disparate worlds, mainstream entertainment and theatrical spectacle—creating, so far, an escape room you'll very much want to leave." Full Review


"Unfortunately, the storytelling is muddled at best, leaving audiences unsure who they are supposed to be and what their stakes are…Participants must guess which bits of what they learn are important...The live performance elements are by far the highlight of this production…Other missing elements include a stronger attempt to frame the experience as something other than an 'escape room,' what any of this has to do with Dante's 'The Divine Comedy' and—most importantly—air-conditioning." Full Review

Absorbing, Clever, Masterful, Must see, Riveting

See it if you would like to be IMMERSED!

Don't see it if Want your typical theatre experience.

Great staging, Riveting, Entertaining

See it if You want to see Cirque, at its best! The acts are thrilling & the story is entertaining. The main characters are award winning. Go see it!

Don't see it if You are not a Cirque fan or enjoy a large theater setting.

Confusing, Dizzying, Edgy, Intense, Ambitious

See it if You've wanted to experience the game Portal in real life, you like solving puzzles and a little bit of suspense/pressure

Don't see it if You don't like being stressed, you don't like interacting with actors or strangers, you don't like small/dark/unpredictable spaces.

Also I consider myself an escape room fanatic, I've played them in many dif... Read more Read less

Exhilarating, Terrifying, Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense

See it if you want a fully immersive experience that is, frankly, rather scary at times. (Also gross!)

Don't see it if you don't like to be scared, want to sit and watch a show, or have never done an escape room.

Also I've done a lot of escape rooms, and this is certainly the most intens... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Clever, Enchanting, Intense, Immersive

See it if You like immersive puzzles with a chilling storyline and a few intense but not necessarily scary thrills.

Don't see it if You want a stress free show that doesn't force you to solve puzzles. Also you have to interact with things.

Also I was the most terrified of the group lol.

Clever, Absorbing, Edgy, Intense, Entertaining

See it if you never lived an escape room and want to live one.

Don't see it if you are claustrophobic and got desperate easily.

Also It was an experience for just me and my friend. The location is in a b... Read more Read less

Clever, Edgy, Intense, Must see, Intelligent

See it if You like immersive experiences You always wanted to be a spy

Don't see it if You're claustrophobic and hate puzzles You're epileptic

Ambitious, Absorbing, Clever, Confusing, Intense

See it if you enjoy riddles, puzzles and escape room fun, and have a friend or two to go with you

Don't see it if you don't like pressure, occasional jump scares, or the ever present sense of the clock ticking down....

Dizzying, Interactive

See it if you have wondered about "escape rooms". This is more puzzle centric and great with small groups. Multiple rooms and a story to go through

Don't see it if you are looking for a "theater" experience.

Clever, Dizzying, Ambitious

See it if you like challenges and have done escape rooms before

Don't see it if you're expecting anything other than an immersive escape room but with a few actors

Quirky, Ambitious, Thrilling

See it if you like escape rooms with production values. The actors are totally in their roles. Hints are therefore ore interesting.

Don't see it if you're looking for challenging escape room with very clever puzzles. The storyline is not entirely coherent.

Ambitious, Confusing, Refreshing, Absorbing, Entertaining

See it if You like puzzles.

Don't see it if You don't want to move around and use your brain.

Ambitious, Great staging

See it if You enjoy riddles and have a friend or two to join you.

Don't see it if You're claustrophobic or hated group projects in school.

Absorbing, Clever, Disappointing, Audience-based

See it if you go with a group of people and enjoy spending time with

Don't see it if you get a random group of people and aren't getting along with them

Entertaining, Confusing, Silly

See it if you're going with a group of friends and just want to have a silly fun time

Don't see it if you want high quality puzzles and a real opportunity to solve them, and/or you want characters and plot that makes sense

Absorbing, Confusing, Great acting, Intense, Great staging

See it if You want to try something different, intense and mind puzzling. The Sound/Visual FX are great!

Don't see it if You get stressed easily, don't like complex puzzles. The experience was awesome. i'm skeptical with these things, but it was entertaining

Clever, Dizzying, Ambitious, Confusing, Great staging

See it if you are looking for something different and inexplicable.

Don't see it if you want to sit and be entertained. Here you have to get involved.

Cast & Creatives (21)