Even the message in the Zoom waiting room feels ominous: You are about to enter Someone Else’s House. Your “haunting kit” from the Geffen Playhouse‘s “Geffen Stayhouse,” delivered with instructions not to open it until the show begins, sits nearby. Upon check-in, you’re placed in a virtual lobby with creepy music. What horrors await?
In fact, the less you know, the better your theatrical experience, the reviewer’s quandary. What you should know is that this is a riveting show that lives up to its ominous promise. It may even have you yelling (while muted) at your computer, something unhelpful like, “Don’t go in the basement!”
In the production, writer/performer Jared Mezzocchi tells a ghost story about a New England house that belonged to his family before he was born and has been part of its lore for decades. Although he didn’t personally experience its terrifying haunting, he calls it part of his own DNA. He used the pandemic to conduct research into the house and its previous residents: five generations of a single family who inhabited it for more than 170 years. He obviously did his homework, and laid his groundwork.
Part crime podcast, part Blair Witch Project, yet perfectly suited to the Zoom environment, Someone Else’s House is as engaging and satisfying an entertainment experience as anything I’ve seen during this time of upheaval. It represents outstanding artistry on the part of Mendozzi and his director, Margot Bordelon.
The Geffen Playhouse continues to nurture and present bar-raising interactive virtual theater. As noted previously, the Geffen has adapted to an unprecedented era of closed theaters seamlessly. It’s almost as if they’d had a plan locked in a vault, just waiting for the rest of the world to stop. From its own rebranding to Geffen Stayhouse, to its collection of material embracing interactivity and virtual presentation, to well-designed kits sent to audience members, the Geffen is an unrivaled arbiter and leader in this new genre. It’s hard to imagine they won’t continue to offer these fun, unique, and likely lucrative shows.
Someone Else’s House is sold out through June 5. Tickets for the run’s recently announced extension, through July 3, go on sale May 12. You can sign up for a notification here. Tickets are $75 per household and attendance at each show is capped. Attendance by children under 12 is prohibited, and for very good reasons.
About Laura Foti Cohen
Laura Foti Cohen has lived in the Brookside neighborhood since 1993. She works as a freelance writer, editor and consultant. She's also a playwright affiliated with Neo Ensemble Theatre in Hollywood.
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