I stand in the darkness with my fellow women, our hands rigidly interlocked. The tension in the room feels thick, as we wait for what’s to come. Suddenly, there are audible gasps as a loud thud comes from the ceiling above, interrupting our moment of silence. There can be no mistaking the eerie sound: the spirits have answered our call, but what they actually had to say–none of us could be prepared for. Blood-curdling screams, and then we’re in communication with something dark, something sinister, something Cursed.
Birch House’s Cursed: An American Tragedy brings something truly unique to the Chicago immersive theater scene, and is just as good as both New York and Los Angeles productions. Effortlessly moving between shocking wartime violence, intimate moments between lovers, and unnerving occult practices, the cast of Cursed brings the highest level of acting to a truly immersive experience written by director Lauren N. Fields and Production Designer Janie Killips.
Cursed is an immersive epic that explores the story of a family curse shown through three different generations during times of war. The audience can choose to follow various family members within the three different time periods: The Civil War, World War I, and World War II.
The location alone, a large mansion in Chicago with numerous hidden nooks and crannies, adds so much to the experience itself, that it’s easy to become fully absorbed in the intricacies of each individual performance. The creaky floor boards, dimly lit bedrooms, and icy cold basement lend themselves as perfect backdrops to both terrifying a baptism and quiet, final goodbyes.
Each member of the family tree, and those woven into its branches by something other than blood, gives a vibrant performance capable of making even the most skeptical guest shed a tear. The story delves into grief and loss in both a genuinely respectful and realistic way. During the course of the experience, real connections are made, and that is a true testament to the Birch House team.
While there are several paths one could take during the show, Cursed does a better job than most at being able to construct a solid storyline no matter where you find yourself exploring. There’s a great balance of wanting to come back again to learn more, without being completely lost during the first go-around.
If you’re in the Chicago area, do yourself a favor and attend Cursed before its run ends November 17, 2018. Tickets are available for purchase here.