Can the haunted house be reinvented for a digital stage? This L.A. theater tries

Can the haunted house be reinvented for a digital stage? This L.A. theater tries

5/4/2021 11:04:00 AM

Can the haunted house be reinvented for a digital stage? This L.A. theater tries

In Geffen Playhouse's 'Someone Else's House,' multimedia artist Jared Mezzocchi opens the door to his family's haunted 200-year-old New England house.

The best Los Angeles County and Orange County museum exhibitions for May.There’s a plotline involving a swarm of bees that doesn’t seem beyond the pale of natural science. When splattered blood appears out of nowhere in the narrative, the police stave off panic by raising the possibility of a wounded animal.

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AdvertisementThe shadow of a diabolical specter is gradually introduced. The leading culprit is the soul of the proprietary patriarch of the Johnson clan, the family that maintained ownership of the house until the Mezzocchis moved in. I wanted to believe, which is to say I wanted to be scared. But the pretense of documentary accuracy heightened my skepticism.

My own internet detective work informed me that Enfield is also the name of a London borough famous for its own (discredited) poltergeist. Uncanny coincidence or artistic dissembling? You’ll have to decide for yourself, but I wish I hadn’t consulted my phone during the performance.

The regular Joe quality of Mezzocchi, dressed for chilly New England weather like a hipster plumber on emergency call, worked until it stopped working. I couldn’t help noticing a light in the background that kept flickering. The subtlety of the effect becomes increasingly pronounced, a reminder of Mezzocchi’s

esteemedmultimedia background. Had there not been such an emphasis on factuality, I might have been better able to supply the suspension of disbelief needed for goosebumps.Still, I was impressed with how the production, a collaboration with Virtual Design Collective, progressed. The setting, when it’s finally revealed, is a genuine coup de théâtre. If I didn’t know Mezzocchi had another show that evening, I might have called 911 to rescue him.

AdvertisementGhost stories ultimately succeed not by providing evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt. They ensnare our imaginations by creating an environment in which we can slip out of the handcuffs of our analytic brains and delve into the darkness that bookends our mortal appearances in this earthly realm.

'Someone Else’s House'Where:Geffen Stayhouse virtual theater via ZoomWhen:6 p.m. Tuesdays, 8 p.m. Wednesday and Thursdays, 6 and 9 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Ends July 3.Tickets:$75.00 per household. (subject to change). Read more: Los Angeles Times »

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