At this time of the year, there are plenty of “haunted house” options for Halloween thrill seekers, most consisting of long dark hallways populated with masked marauders who seek to pop out suddenly at the most unexpected moment. Your heart pounds, you get an adrenaline rush, and then you see that, well, it’s just a guy in a cheesy mask. To quote B.B. King, “The thrill is gone.”
What separates Oracle Productions “Disturbed III” from such offerings is that it attempts to leave you with a fright that you can take home with you, something to think about. Yes, there are dark halls and even some pop-outs. But what stays with you is what you experience after the “boo!” factor. As these gifted performance artists interact with you and act their soulless little hearts out for you in cramped quarters, when the light is good enough, the makeup, special effects and costumes are convincing enough that, well, they often don’t look like theatrical trappings.
A deadpan host ushers you in and is able to look you right in the eye as he cautiously introduces various “experiments” by a resident mad doctor who seems all the more mad because he has reasonable lapses of sanity as he attempts to explain himself. And the experiments themselves, complete with glowing eyes that dart around in the dark and who beg for your help more mercilessly than the panhandlers outside the theater, really do a convincing job of making you feel as if you are encountering truly tortured, lost souls.
Oh, and did I mention that this is all preceded by a running projector showing you dissections and botched psychological surgeries of the past? By the time the whole thing has ended, you end up in a back alley where you’re not sure which was worse: going in, or coming out to savor the scares for the trip home. (Dennis Polkow)
At Oracle Theatre, 3809 North Broadway, (773)244-2980; $9, through November 1,