Virtual Theater Review: SOMEONE ELSE’S HOUSE (Geffen)

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by Tony Frankel on May 26, 2021

in Theater-Los Angeles,Virtual

I WANT TO SEE MORE DEAD PEOPLE

Who doesn’t love a good ghost story? Jared Mezzocchi¬†(Russian Troll Farm, my favorite theater stream of the COVID era) brings an Amityville Horror-esque, true-life tale right to your living room, courtesy of The Geffen Playhouse, which is streaming Someone Else’s House with a limited number of participants (40 homes) at each live show. The play is billed as “interactive” but I don’t consider a few audience members reading the back of a card as such. A very cool, small wooden box with a “J” burned on it will arrive in your mailbox prior to your show date; you are asked not to open it until instructed to do so. Love that shit! But it turns out the best thing in the box is an awesome-smelling candle — the rest is unnecessary to the tale. In fact, had this been done like Blair Witch Project with Mezzocchi filming himself, and without the rest of us watching ourselves on Zoom, it would have helped give more power to the tale — and maybe even more imagination for a stronger ending.

Look, all I need to know is a 200-year-old New England house, and I’m hooked. Mezzocchi is the baby of his family, and hadn’t yet been born when his family lived in this haunted abode back in the ’80s (that’s the actual house on the show’s poster). The events that happened there over a short time keep his family freaked-out to this day. Our intrepid and very engaging storyteller mentions his scarred-for-life brother but plays recordings of his mother, who recounts her spooky time in a house that up until then had only been owned by the Johnson family, an eerie-looking bunch whom Mezzocchi meticulously researched for the show.

The impressiveness here is actually not the tale, but what happens around Mezzocchi as he tells the tale. This is Jared’s forte: multimedia. So look for strange happenings around him, which grow ever more frequent as he progresses, leading to a frenzied finish (the ending of the story is underwhelming and vague — the tech is great). The tale — which can be told in about 10 minutes — definitely won’t give you goosebumps in the night, but it holds our attention for 70 minutes — thanks to our host Mezzocchi, director Margot Bordelon and especially the great Sibyl Wickersheimer, whose production design creates a home that allows for moving cameras and special effects seven times a week. If this play is ever revisited, however, I want it to be so scary that the interactive part is me clutching my own throat.

photos courtesy of The Geffen Playhouse

Someone Else’s House
Geffen Playhouse
produced in Association with Virtual Design Collective (ViDCo)
ends on July 3, 2021
for tickets call 310.208.2028 or visit the Geffen Playhouse

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