The Last Defender


Written and Directed by Nathan Allen
Puzzle Design by Sandor Weisz


The live-action game that makes YOU the hero!

The Last Defender is returning in 2020!
Visit to get tickets.
"Perfect combinations of storytelling, stagecraft, and giddy theater-school camaraderie... Will undoubtedly satisfy even the pickiest problem-solving nerd"
Chicago Reader
"Uniquely challenging and exhilarating!"
Time Out Chicago
"Ingenious interactive theater piece! ... a futurist environment where you feel like you've been plunked down in the middle of a sci-fi film."
Windy City Times
"Challenging and terrifically fun!"
A.V. Club
Wondering what it's like INSIDE Defender HQ!? Listen to this short audio story from WBEZ radio!
Play: 5 Minutes


Artistic Director Nathan Allen and Company Member and D.C. Comics artist Chris Burnham, team up with some of Chicago’s best loved Puzzle and Game designers! Together, they've created a wholly new experiment in immersive story and stagecraft. It’s part performance, part puzzle hunt, and part live action game. Set in 1983, The Last Defender draws on the era's political and social turmoil, the golden age of arcades, and impending nuclear threats to give audiences a one-of-a-kind storytelling experience.

Audiences will become the heroes of the story in The Defenders' underground headquarters. The United States and The Soviet Union are still mired in the Cold War. We've deployed artificial intelligence alongside 8 bit arcade-style computer technologies to control our nuclear weapons. Players will navigate their own paranoia, as well as the stresses of Mutually Assured Destruction to do the job of The Defenders. Everyone will work as a team to gather information, solve puzzles, and make increasingly difficult decisions in real time. All to finally complete The Defenders' final mission and save the world.

The Last Defender was commissioned and developed by The House Theatre of Chicago and the Chicago Performance Lab through the Theatre and Performance Studies Program at the University of Chicago.

Show Dates: Jan 21 2016 to Aug 6 2016 Location:

Chopin Theatre, downstairs, 1543 W Division St, Chicago




Audiences become the heroes playing The Last Defender!
Raves for The Last Defender

"Perfect combinations of storytelling, stagecraft, and giddy theater-school camaraderie... Will undoubtedly satisfy even the pickiest problem-solving nerd"
Chicago Reader


"Ingenious interactive theater piece! ... a futurist environment where you feel like you've been plunked down in the middle of a sci-fi film."
Windy City Times


"An adrenaline-generating team-building exercise! Uniquely challenging and exhilarating, The Last Defender is exciting new territory"

Time Out Chicago


"House Theatre of Chicago is responsible for some of the least-pretentious high art in our city. There is real and well-deserved affection for this company that goes beyond niche. Like a spring-loaded door on the other side of which is the key to saving the world, they release something in us. So come play. The world needs you, defender." 
New City Stage


"Challenging and terrifcally fun!"

A.V. Club

The Last Defender is a game. A cooperative game where you, the players, must work together and communicate as a team to succeed. You will do this by gathering and sharing information, solving puzzles, and working as a group to make increasingly difficult decisions.
What ages can play?
The Last Defender is designed for adults, and is recommended for ages 15 and up. The nature of the collaboration in the game and the problem-solving skils required to be a Defender mean that this one isn't for our younger audience members.
What is the dress code?

It's Nuclear War. Wear sensible shoes.
On arrival, each player will receive a standard issue jumpsuit to be worn over their civilian clothes. We suggest dressing in comfortable clothing to more easily perform your duties as a Defender. Athletic sneakers and pants are preferred.

All Defenders must fill out the Jumpsuit Specification form before their game day. 


How long is the game? 

The experience lasts 90 minutes without an intermission. You should arrive at least 15 minutes before your scheduled start time.


Wait. It's not a play?

It's not a play, but it is a crazy-awesome story about mutually assured destruction. This live action game will make YOU the hero. There will not be live actors in the room, or an audience watching. Only players (that's you) and a few masked helpers to ensure a smooth experience. You will work with the folks you come with, and strangers, to solve puzzles and advance the story. You'll play inside a fully designed Defender HQ, complete with locker room, supercomputer, communications and information terminals, rec room, and more.


Do some people play and some people watch?

NOPE! Everyone who attends will step into the shoes of a Defender, and play the game. There is not an audiece watching the players. You can participate in as few or as many puzzles as you choose. (Though we'll highly recommend getting your brain working on as many as you can; the world is in crisis after all!) A max of 16 tickets are sold to each showtime, and everyone will play.


Can we buy out a whole night?

You bet! There is a max of 16 players spots at each show. A group can buy out all the tickets and bring between 8 and 16 people. Buy-outs are perfect for birthdays, corporate team building, bachelor/bachelorttes, and more. If you like, you can click through to buy tickets for the date you want, and if all 16 numbered player spots are available, simply buy them all! Learn more about Groups and Buy-Outs HERE.


Why am I being assigned a seat number when I buy tickets online?

There are not theatre seats.  In fact,  you'll be up and moving most of the game. You'll see the 16 numbered player spots when buying tickets online, so you can see how many spots remain for this show time.  (In case you want to invite more friends!) If you wish to buy out a performance, and need help finding a show will all 16 spots available, please call us at 773-769-3832 or email


About Mobility

The Last Defender is not a performance you watch, but rather a game you play. You will need to move around the space among multiple game stations with your fellow players. For a majority of the 90 minute experience, you will choose which station to be engaged in, and how much or little you'd like to move around. Some stations have seats, and some do not. Around the room, small folding portable seats are provided (like at a museum), and you should use these as much as you like, moving them between stations, or staying put.
About Accessibility

Defender Headquarters are in the downstairs theatre in the Chopin venue, down a steep flight of stairs. It is not wheelchair accessible and there is no lift or alternate route. Once downstairs, the playing space is flat (no steps). If you feel comfortable navigating down the stairs, collapsible wheelchairs, walkers, and other assistive devices would all work well in the playing space, and you are welcome to bring them along.
If you or your guest require special accommodation for vision, hearing or mobility please let us know ahead of your attendance, and we'll ensure you are placed on a team where all puzzles will work well for you. Email Kait Mikitin, Audience Services Manager, at