Last year was our first experience with the “Haunted play,” Delusion. Not knowing what to expect, or what the heck a “Haunted play” was, we approached a stately old mansion in a residential neighborhood near downtown Los Angeles and were sucked into a truly mesmerizing experience. (Here’s our review of Delusion from 2012)
A Haunted Play is just that. It is NOT a typical haunted house of slapdash plywood and painted sets. It is NOT a winding conga line of people making their way past scare actors planted around corners to scare you. This is theatre without a stage, in an existing physical location. Delusion is the closest thing you will experience to actually being in horror movie. Last year’s experience left us hungering to return for more. It was such a popular event that it was extended over and over again well into the end of the year. This year, Delusion has moved to a new location and has only gotten better in the process.
An obtuse continuation of last years “Blood Rite” storyline, Delusion: Masque of Mortality, is set in a new location. . . A creepy old church in Silverlake. Guests are cast as wandering souls looking for sanctuary. The church serves as the multi-level, multi-passage stage in which the story and your journey, takes place.
After checking into the “box office”, a tiny table with a red lamp on it, small groups are ushered through the large front doors of the sacred building. Dim, flickering light barely illuminates the earth-toned foyer. A robed figure wearing a long-snouted plague-doctor mask slowly descends a staircase and barricades the door that we just entered. The figure then stands, silently facing us as a voice-over delivers exposition.
Something feels wrong…but this must be the place. There’s nowhere left to go.
The letter we found seems to promise another path:
…you’ve wandered for years, running from the plague, searching for answers to your tormented thoughts. Why has God abandoned us? Or is there even such a thing? Why would such a righteous being allow the horror around us? You can only run for so long. Time follows one step behind, like a shadow nearing noon…
Brooding whispers of an enlightened group of people called The Doctors spread as quickly as the virus. These mysterious figures promise a remedy to not only the plague but to a greater life, free of the oppression of God and human limitations.
But we just can’t stop the brooding thoughts of doubt and suspicion.
…we are all the good that is left in this world. When you arrive at the refuge make your way to the lounge, we will find you when the time is right…
We have little choice. They must let us in.
The cloaked, masked figure addresses the small group of ten people and leads them to the lounge. “Remain here. Act natural. When it is your time, you will be called.” We turn a corner and are suddenly in an open-air courtyard furnished with low tables and lounge chairs. To the left, large french doors lay open and another indoor lounge is available for guests to explore. We advise that you do examine your surroundings, as there are wonderful little hidden gems throughout this area. Try piecing together the scraps of paper that litter the work desk in the corner.
Robed attendants then call out your group name and your small clan of ten refugees are gathered to begin your “Play.” In the confines of the story, we are told that a year has passed since we entered the refuge. This facility is administered by a murky clan of doctors, all wearing the same jet black robes and ivory masks. They have kept us safe from the plague that rages on outside, but mysterious things have been occurring. Patients in the refuge have been disappearing and we have enlisted to help unravel the deepening mystery.
We are offered more setup…
The inhabitants have long been holed up while the Blight rages on. Yet time and close quarters can breed dissent and friction. The plague spreads outside these walls while another, perhaps more disturbing, danger grows within.
Disappearances and murders, rumored to be tied to The Doctors, occur more frequently now. The only seemingly safe place is the courtyard and lounge. Many have now taken refuge within the refuge. The walls are closing in. They drink, laugh, dance… masking the reality of their dire situation.
Yet, with all great oppression comes resistance.
Entering a small room guests are ordered to not silence, but to TURN OFF, their cell phones. THANK YOU DELUSION!. Soon another character enters the room and introduces herself. There are terrifying things happening within the walls of the sanctuary. The place is far more dangerous than anyone realizes. It is our job to not only uncover, but to stop the evil that is taking place.
Thus begins a wild adventure through darkened hallways, rooms torn asunder and left a mess, secret passage ways, and winding staircases. In your pursuit for answers, the actors lead the group through hair-raising chases, narrow escapes and frightening confrontations. Along the way you are no mere viewer. As an actor in the show, you will be given tasks in order to uncover the mystery surrounding the doctors. Everyone in the group is given equal opportunity to be involved and no one is left out.
Once Again, Mr. Braver crafts an intricate premise that immediately engrosses participants. The atmosphere is strong and by far, the most finely tuned you are likely to experience this season. The feeling of despair that is conveyed through the set and lighting is relentless. What’s more, Braver has found a new location that surpasses the previous mansion in creep factor. Long winding staircases and random changes in floor levels replicate what it might be like to be walking through an M.C. Escher drawing.
The cast is also unbelievably good again. Some familiar faces from Jon’s corral of actors return. Most notably Frank Weitzel as The Cleaner and Cindy Clark as the Bishop. They are always good and we get a delightfully sickening pleasure from their performances. Matt Fowler and Eric Pierce are also particularly engaging as they double up on the role of Charles, while Dasha Kittredge is perfect in her ability to garner sympathy and attention in her role as Elizabeth. Last but not least we cannot forget Trista Robinson as the creepy brooding child. Trista has an unnerving high toned voice that betrays an evil undercurrent.
Haunted Play’s Delusion: Mask of Mortality is a horror experience that must not be missed by anyone, horror fan or not. It is horror, but not in the BOO scare type of way normally associated with typical Halloween Haunts. This is, first and foremost, a theatrical event. It is tells a strong story, has a cast and beautiful sets; however, the audience does not sit in seats but rather follows the action and actually plays a role in the advancement of the story.
The combination of the engrossing plot, the setting, the actors, and the overall production make this, without question, the most elegantly polished, satisfying haunt this year.
If you see one haunt this year, there’s something terribly wrong with you. There are a plethora of great haunted attractions this year! But if given the opportunity, lunge at the chance to experience Delusion: Masque of Mortality. It is worth the time and the money.
Those who have been following our Halloween coverage over the years know that we spend the better part of a month and a half attending haunts nationwide. We’ve never experienced a Haunt better than last year’s Delusion: The Blood Rite or this year’s Delusion: Masque of Mortality.
Don’t miss out, get yourself a ticket, or come join your fellow MiceChat readers on November 2nd as we take over several performances of Delusion. It’s a great opportunity to experience this wonderful event with your fellow readers.
We have reserved three performances (10 seats per performance) on the evening of November 2nd.