When you go to the theater, there’s a certain distance and ritual to it all. You are the audience, after all, and you’re sitting in the darkness while the actors perform their way through one, two or more acts. There might be a little banter, or perhaps in a horror show you’ll have someone jump out to say “boo” from the aisles. But for all this immediacy, really, you’re not in the story.
Jon Braver and Neil Patrick Harris just don’t seem to think that’s enough. That’s why they’ve teamed up to produce this year’s edition of the Haunted Play—“Delusion: The Blood Rite.” And trust me, you’ve never seen anything quite like this.
Because you’re not seeing it. You’re living it.
From now until November 10, you can go to a century-old mansion (yes, we have those in Los Angeles, smartass) in a quiet, dark neighborhood and travel back in time. You and your friends can be guided into a creepy labyrinth of madness and evil, as you return from the Great War to seek Doctor Frederick Lowell and the source of the strange, unsettling dreams you’ve been having lately.
And you’ll do it all by actually walking into a hundred-year-old mansion, touching the worn wooden paneling and the old books, walking uncertainly into the darkness where… things… are waiting, and not just being chased around a foggy maze by monster-actors. You’ll be immersed in a story, interacting with people and objects from a nightmare, and well—you’ll have to actually experience it to know the rest.
It would spoil the fun to tell you exactly what happens when the protagonists of this interactive play—you and your friends—go on their dark quest. Suffice to say that you don’t sit in a chair and you don’t have any fourth wall. This story happens to you in all three dimensions and in real time, and the fear and the pathos are as real as the person next to you in the dimly lit rooms of the household. And say… who is it that’s next to you in that room, anyway?
Writer-director Jon Braver does a great job of mixing characterization with action, including some things you’ll see but won’t quite believe you’re really seeing live and in person. Set designer Kellie Tinney and decorator Rachel Gold (and art department maestros Nicole Case, Michele Yu and Cindy Chao) work with existing environs to create a convincing and often very unnerving setting. The sound and music (Brent Stranathan and Siddartha Barhoorn, respectively) work immaculately with the performers to fray your nerves. And lighting director Ronen Mintz’s design, which could easily be overlooked, is calculated to make you truly dread what’s around that corner. But you know you have to go there, no matter what. As a wise ghost once said, “There’s no turning back now.”
The entire cast (which is too large to name and too talented to ignore) is beautifully presented in Cat Elrod’s costumes, hair and makeup wizardry. (Not to mention David Hugghins and Josh Bushueff’s stunt artistry.) When you get down to it, the whole cast and crew has a lot to be proud of, because Delusion: The Blood Rite brings you bodily into a world of horror that quickly rises to a fever pitch and then doesn’t let go. You know all those times you’ve told the people in a horror movie, “Run, you dummies! Run!”? Now you’re the dummy. So get ready to run!
There’s nothing else like it out there. If you want to take part in one of the most unusual and special (and just plain fun) Halloween experiences, you need to participate in Delusion: The Blood Rite. There are a couple of caveats I’ll give you, though:
- There are no “chicken exits” (clearly marked doors with signs saying EXIT on them)… once you enter this horror story, you are committed
- There are no flashlights of any kind (forget your little “cellphone lantern” trick here) and it really will be dark and frightening
- When you and everybody else gets the “Run, you dummies!” impulse (and you will), be careful, because you’re running inside a house in the dark with several other people and you can easily run into each other and the architecture
- There are narrow, old-fashioned staircases to climb up and down… for this and other reasons, DO NOT DRINK BEFORE YOU ENTER THE HOUSE. There’s a cool bar in the garden (and a really nice food truck) where you can drink after the performance, but do everyone a favor and skip it beforehand
- For the same reason, leave your high heels at home
Intrigued? You should be. This is about as close to living a horror movie as you’ll ever get… if you’re lucky! You can get all the information you need, and even book your journey into terror, by visiting their website. Don’t miss this event!