“All that remains after a life has been lived are the ghost stories.”
A Haunted House Story
I’ll admit it, I scare easy. My low threshold for horror can be a bummer as a lover of immersive theater, as some of the best pieces are often quite scary. But after drooling over the intricacies and stunning imagery of the E3W Productions Instagram for the past month, I decided to take a chance, be a tough cookie, and go see “In Another Room”. I’m really glad I did.
Although they are new to the aspects of immersive creation, the team behind this experience are veterans of telling a compelling narrative, and it shows. Crafting an immersive production is one of the most difficult things one can undertake. This experience is built upon a solid immersive theater foundation of sound design (music building to crescendos / jump scare noises from both actors and the speakers), supernatural elements in the story, and one-on-one interactions. Yet, while the company should be commended for these aspects, it was the small unique differences that set this show apart and made it shine.
There were things that were new to this production that really set it apart, and the reason why it differentiates itself from other any haunted house you’ll experience.
The acting was stellar. All the characters felt real — really real. You can’t cheat during one-on-one performances; either you have it or you don’t. The various ages of the cast felt incredible too; so many immersive theater experiences are just filled with young hot things (don’t worry, there are also young hot things), but you’re limiting yourself artistically by doing this. One board game scene in particular felt unbelievably real, and I forgot for a few minutes that I was in a play.
Immersed in a Narrative
I don’t want to give away spoilers, but let’s say that a part of you will in fact remain in the house after you leave. The cast also gives you an object to take with you, which was a really nice touch. It’s always fun to find an object from a compelling immersive theater experience on your coffee table the next morning. Like a note from a lover. Or an empty pizza box from when you got drunk and ordered a pizza at 1am. The personal touch is aided by the fact that with only 3 audience members allowed in at a time, you’re guaranteed to feel special.
Why haven’t more immersive productions played with this variable?! It is such a powerful tool to induce memory and feeling in your viewer. Just a few of the cacophony of smells in the house include: beeswax candles, old newspaper, vintage perfume, and flowers. Not only was each room spectacularly designed but had different lighting and scents enveloping it. It was easy to be transported with so much stimuli surrounding you.
Set design is everything in immersive experiences, and designer Patrick Blanchard knocked it out of the park. The room at the center of the experience is outstanding. There’s basically not a spare inch of wall or surface that isn’t covered by various documents, giving you clues of the people that resided inside the house. You are surrounded by doors as soon as you walk into the house, and the barrage of documents, all written in black white and red — are terrifying and also perfect. The color scheme matches the fabulous instagram account, so I felt primed. But instead of dozens of digital images, seeing literally thousands of documents in one small space was overwhelming in the best way.
A Deeper Message
The company drove home the idea of the real emotions / people that lay beyond the phantoms of ghost stories. In fact, even the audience members will one day be “ghosts.” The ending of the show slightly hit you over the head with this message — it would have been more successful/resonant if the show had culminated with the attic scene, which tied together all threads very nicely. However, I’m glad that the writers attempted to go deeper with this story than a typical haunted house experience. It helps the medium as a whole for creators to take these types of risks.
Overall, “In Another Room” is a great addition to the Los Angeles immersive theater scene. I was scared, but never terrified, so it was nice to get a haunted house experience that was more rooted in story than haunts. For this reason, I would recommend this to horror and traditionally non-horror enthusiasts alike, as there’s something in this for everyone.
Unfortunately, at the moment the first run of the show is sold out, but there may be a few spots opening up near the end of their run. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and they’ll add you to the waitlist. I’m incredibly excited to see what this talented team dreams up next.
You can check them out on instagram here.
Written and Produced by:
Aaron Keeling, Austin Keeling, and Natalie Jones
Aaron and Austin Keeling
Score Composed by:
Nathan Matthew David and Jeremy Lamb