Delusion, His Crimson Queen

As I sit here on this lovely rainy morning drinking green tea out of my zombie head mug I realize that when it comes to Halloween attractions, I’ve just about done them all. Haunted houses, haunted mazes, corn mazes, haunted corn mazes, ghost tours… That is until Saturday night when I experienced, Delusion for the first time.

Delusion touts itself as “An Interactive Play.” Not a haunted house, nor an escape room. Something entirely different. Friends of mine have attended in the past and told me is was an experience not to be missed. They were absolutely correct.

Set in a creepy grand old house in West Adams. The experience takes about an hour to complete. Early arrival was encouraged so you could hang out in outdoor lounge. Down the stairs into a detached basement was a bar serving “spirits” in case you need to calm down or steel up your nerves. There were a few others in my group who were Delusion-Virgins, so we opted for a cocktail and discussed the excitement of the unknown.

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Once our entire group arrived, there were twelve of us in total. We were given wristbands and asked to sign a waiver. This experience is unlike most haunts in where the actors can and will touch you. Hence the word, interactive. After signing our lives away we headed to the red velvet entrance to begin our journey.

I do not want to give away any of the details of the play in case readers want to experience it for themselves. I will tell you that I had to run from room to room, crawl through small spaces and hide in a wardrobe to avoid being seen. I answered questions, when prompted. Otherwise they stress silence. Which is actually very important. A lot of narrative is explained which you will be asked to recall later. Our group had to complete timed tasks and unlock doors before a creepy crawling creature came after us. The entire time, I know I’m in a play but the actors do such a great job to keep up the tension, that your mind begins to believe the events unfolding.

The hour flew by. During our adventure we lost some friends, and found them again. People were captured and then released. We saw some incredible stunts and each of us was asked to play our part in order to complete the story. I wish I had more time to wander around the impeccably decorated rooms. The house, uh mansion, was massive. Each room painstakingly recreated to evoke a rich family’s home from 1933 upstate New York. I kept finding myself reading the book spines on the shelves and taking note of the vivid sets and costumes.

Before I knew it, our time was up.  We were lead back outside where we fervently talked within our group about the experience. I wanted to know what happened to my friends when they were taken. Apparently some pretty creepy things, which they all thoroughly enjoyed. I still had fake blood smeared all over my wrist from my interactive encounter. It wasn’t a traditional jump-scare haunted house. Not to say there weren’t scary moments, but they were built up and deliberate. The tension and immersion into the story is what makes Delusion unique.

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This is writer/director Jon Braver’s fifth original play. I’m impressed by his dedication to both his craft and his audience to come up with something this unique year after year. I completely understand why it has such a large cult following. He isn’t pandering to immature participants with traditional scare tactics. He believes we are mature thinkers who would enjoy something a little more cerebral. He’s right.

Is it more expensive then other haunted attractions? Yes. But it’s one hundred percent worth every penny. Our group bought tickets on day one and and it sold out not soon after. I truly hope they get the extension they are petitioning for, so more people can journey into Delusion. Join their mailing list to be the first to know if they get the extension. I would attend even if it wasn’t Halloween. This is a full on theatre production that I would enjoy any time of year.

Some tips from a first timer. Know before you go!

  • Don’t bring anything that can’t fit in your pocket. I thought there would be a coat check. I was wrong. But the bartender was kind enough to let me check my clutch with him. Next year I will leave it in my glove box.
  • No phones. As much as I would like to have captured more photos inside the house. Cell phone use is completely forbidden. You will get thrown out. Plus taking pictures would interrupt your immersion in the story. You can turn your phone off (not to silent) and keep it in your pocket. Just be aware that you’re running around. If it falls out, you may never find it again in this maze of a mansion.
  • Dress comfortably. Wear clothes you don’t mind getting dusty or dirty. I got fake blood on mine, but it washed right out.  Plus between running around and your adrenaline pumping, you may want to leave that jacket in the car.
  • Get a large group of your friends to go with you. We had a group of twelve people. Usually they let in groups of 10-20 people at a time, depending on your group size and how busy they are that night, you may have strangers with you. This could be fine or you could get stuck with, “that-guy.” You know the one. He has to point out how stunts are done, or heckles the actors. Don’t be a comedian and don’t get stuck with one.
  • Use valet, uber, lyft or ride share. Since the experience takes place in an actual neighborhood, parking is limited. This is not a theme park with massive lots. Whether or not Delusion is granted an extension depends primarily on how neighborly they are to the community.
  • INTERACT! I can’t stress this enough. In our first room we as a group were asked 20161016_000154a question. We didn’t respond. The actor pressed us again. Finally someone in our group broke the ice and said something. It started the ball rolling. The whole point of Delusion is to be an active participant. Don’t just be a voyeur. My interaction was creepy and awkward and I loved it.

Delusion can add another cult follower to it’s growing supportive community. I am hooked. I will buy tickets every year, the first day they go on sale. It’s truly unlike anything in which I’ve participated. In all my years of Halloween activities I thought there was nothing left that could surprise me. I was wrong, and I couldn’t be happier.

Check out www.enterdelusion.com for more information.

 

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