Los Angeles Theater Review: DELUSION: MASQUE OF MORTALITY (Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake)

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by Tom Chaits on October 11, 2013

in Theater-Los Angeles

HOLY HORROR

It’s that that time of year again when everyone and their brother is looking to scare the crap out of you. To that end, The Original Interactive Horror Theatre Company is back to terrorize their patrons with Delusion: Masque of Mortality. Last year they presented the highly successful Delusion: The Blood Rite at a spooky mansion in the Adams District. This time around the action unfolds in the Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake. Billed as a live action first-person horror experience, audience members convene in a bar for some liquid courage and entertainment by a roving magician (the very personable David Gabbay on the night I attended). Assorted costumed actors are there as well to set the stage for what is to come. Then, at their appointed time, the subjects are escorted on their journey in groups of ten.

"Delusion: Masque of Mortality," The Original Interactive Horror Theatre at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake.

The time is the 1930s and the place is a makeshift asylum. There has been an outbreak of plague. A mysterious group calling themselves “The Doctors” — strangely reminiscent of Mad Magazine’s Spy vs. Spy —  promise not only a cure but also a life that is free of human limitations. Of course they may not be as benevolent as they claim. Those who stand in their way are mysteriously never seen again. As you wander around, your group must find the pieces of a cipher which, when reconstructed, will reveal the truth behind the Doctor’s  façade.

"Delusion: Masque of Mortality," The Original Interactive Horror Theatre at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake.

While it’s nice to have a narrative to follow, the story it turns out is of no consequence to the overall enjoyment of the experience. The success of the event lies totally in the creative team’s ability to keep you sufficiently spooked through your hour long sojourn. Producer-writer-director Jon Braver rises to the occasion in fine style. The church itself provides an excellent venue and is by its own design (cloistered ceilings, narrow hallways, and byzantine open spaces) the perfect setting. Much credit must be given to production designer Christopher Reed, art director Marissa Leguizamon, set director Jacqueline Link, sound designer Ian Momii, lighting director Ronen Mintz and costume, hair and make-up artist Cat Elrod for bringing Mr. Braver’s vision to life. What they have wrought is a monumental achievement. You are instantly transported to a time and place and never doubt you have been taken back in time.

"Delusion: Masque of Mortality," The Original Interactive Horror Theatre at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake.

The characters are double and triple cast and often in heavy make-up or a disguise making it impossible for me to tell who I was actually watching. Whoever they were, they did a fine job keeping the action (and the group) moving along from setting to setting. A new group of willing subjects departs from the bar every 15 minutes so it’s important not to fall behind.

"Delusion: Masque of Mortality," The Original Interactive Horror Theatre at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake.

Mr. Braver has stunningly addressed every aspect of the production he has control over leaving only one unknown variable – the composition of the attendees in your particular group. It’s a hit-and-miss proposition. My group was a hit. Everyone was willing to fully participate in the adventure and several people were shaking in their boots from start to finish. There was plenty to be terrorized by, and watching their terror was quite amusing. However, if your group has a couple of jaded sticks-in-the-mud it could severely diminish the fun and fear.

"Delusion: Masque of Mortality," The Original Interactive Horror Theatre at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake.

Without going into too many specifics, which would spoil the fun, I will simply tell you there is plenty to send a shiver up your spine and if you go into the show with an open mind you will no doubt jump out of your skin more than a few times. Now quick, hide under that bed before the Doctors get you.

"Delusion: Masque of Mortality," The Original Interactive Horror Theatre at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake.

Delusion: Masque of Mortality
The Original Interactive Horror Theatre
Bethany Presbyterian Church in Silverlake
1629 Griffith Park Blvd.
scheduled to end on November 23, 2013
for tickets, visit http://www.EnterDelusion.com

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