With a space confined to a limit of about fifteen audience members, Oracle Theatre’s production of “Disturbed” is designed to “scare the life back into you,” and this mission is what sets it apart from typical haunted Halloween happenings that would rather scare the life out of you. And to further distance itself, it plays on real-life themes such as stalking, war and murder, rather than skeletons, Krueger and chainsaws. Ushered through darkness into a very small, very black room flanked by six curtained doorways, it is official—the audience is spooked.
“The traditional haunted house uses tools that we have all experienced, [being] startled by a shadow, startled by something coming at you. But here, with ‘Disturbed,’ are situations that are aloof, but always present on our minds, fear of the unknown,” says Oracle’s Brad Jayhan-Little. He chose these themes because “these three situations depicted in ‘Disturbed’ are personal fears and worries of [his] own.”
The space at Oracle is so small that it seems impossible that the actors will get away without accidentally touching the audience members. They invade your personal space without warning—but do not interact with you. In the final scene, when a girl is seemingly trapped inside the room and runs around feverishly pounding on the walls, screaming to escape her impending—and perverted—death, the intimacy of the space and the fly-on-the-wall feeling makes you to want to help her. She’s eventually dragged away by a creepy guy in a gas mask—and the show is over only fifteen minutes after it began. One person says immediately, “That was supposed to be scary?”
“My approach is to have these situations linger in the psyche, and create the fear after they leave and find themselves looking around, in the real world, for these situations we have depicted,” says Jayhan-Little. After the show, the audience is led through the back alley—another scare tactic—and the creepy guy in the gas mask takes pictures. (Shelley Jacobs)