I received my gift box, in suspenseful anticipation of the Geffen Stayhouse’s newest virtual show, “Someone Else’s House,” written by award winning multimedia artist Jared Mezzocchi, and directed by Margot Bordelon, in collaboration with Virtual Design Collective. The box’ contents included a sage scented candle to set the mood amidst dimmed lights, (the most ideal way to view the show), and a packet of photo cards, replete with historical birthdates and genealogy of the Johnson family who resided in a 200 year old New England house, in Enfield, New Hampshire, with a tale of a true life haunting in its very walls. A mix of ‘scary ghost story, told around a campfire and a delving into a haunted family tree, aiming to get to the ‘root,’ “Someone Else’s House” is an interactive show, where each audience member’s input makes up an intrinsic part of the story.
We all have an innate sense of curiosity and wonder especially of things supernatural , macabre or haunting nature. As a child, I was scared to death of ghosts; now, as an adult, I seek them out as glimmers, spirits, and remnants from my past. Something creepy this way comes in this production, as each new revelation and plot twist has the viewer mesmerized. Haunting melodic music enhances the intrigue of the story, a true asset to the show. So much history within the walls , floors , windows , roof of this one home, leads to a mention of a slaughtering cellar. Incidents in this house caused such trauma to Mezzocchi’s brother (revealed, third person) that, no doubt, terrorized him for his whole life. The house is a symbolic time capsule, where the family history was never deleted, but rather was captured in little moments of time.
The audience is provided with authentic looking snapshots and genealogies of the Johnson clan, replete with captions and backstory from one generation to the next. The photos look realistic, as if frayed, yellowed, and from another era long past, with only ghosts lingering, yet nowhere in sight.Rather than moving on to the future, the presenter wishes to delve into the past and explore myth or reality; it’s up to the audience to ultimately decide. The viewers virtually enter ‘someone else’s house,’ and cross the secret portal from the living to the dead, meeting the ghosts that linger in this weird creepy space. Just as one hopes to run as fast as possible, what appears to be real blood is found splattered out of nowhere. This leads to an inventory and assessment of the room and situation. as the plot thickens. In the age of 23 and me, how could one not be engaged in knowing where one’s family came from and biological roots, the genes that make up each individual, as part of the whole. We encounter people we didn’t know, yet yearn to discover their secrets and mysteries.
As curiosity is a simple fact of human nature, the show’s narrator does a superb job in encouraging each viewer to think, “What do I do now?” “Someone Else’s House” is a literal metaphor for Thomas Wolfe’s premise, “you can’t go home again.” The audience is virtually taken hostage to be an engaged part of the story, putting on their super sleuth thinking caps. Upon opening the Pandora’s box of sorts, one becomes an integral part of the story, as each person is assigned to represent and introduce two or three of the family members, telling the history or ‘her story.’ One is compelled to believe horrifying, traumatizing events occurred, and the notion of ‘you can hide but cannot run,’ becomes surreal. In the world today, rampant with childhood traumas, this story is a top chiller, the making of a quintessential horror movie, or Broadway production. Grand special effects and ghost silhouettes would be wonderful additions in a live setting for a future date. Disclaimer: this show is not for the faint of heart: one may vicariously feel the narrator’s visceral descriptions of pricking sensation in eyes , worry building up in chest; and gathering in throat. We tend to think one dimensionally about houses and buildings rather than what goes on behind closed doors.
Watching the story of someone else’s house is sure to ensure the viewer’s appreciation of one’s own abode, no matter how humble, particularly in this year of sheltering in place.
‘Someone Else’s House’
Where: Geffen Stayhouse virtual theater via Zoom
When: 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).
Running time: 1 hour, 10 minutes