Immersive Theater: Wicked Lit Presents THE CHIMES & THE CORPSE

(L-R) Meghan Lewis, Aaron McGee, Richard Large, and Kevin Dulude

(L-R) Meghan Lewis, Aaron McGee, Richard Large, and Kevin Dulude

The mausoleum doors open for an intimate anniversary experience.

As a first time attendee of the Wicked Lit event, I was excited to finally get to see a production. I joined Shannon, who had been to previous shows for something a little different. In past years I had heard about the cemetery performances in the graveyard and was intrigued to see that staging. However, this year the creative team behind Wicked Lit has crafted a more intimate experience for their audience to explore the hallowed halls of the Mountain View Mausoleum in Altadena among its permanent residents.

This year Unbound Productions, the immersive theater company behind Wicked Lit, has peeled away even more of the stage with even smaller groups than before and invite audiences to see classic horror literature come to life like never before. Staged around rooms tucked amongst the mausoleum rows and the chapel of Mountain View, this year’s tales: The Chimes and the Corpse center around not letting the past or fears of the future grip you. Both plays were such a welcome respite from the world outside the show in the best way and because of the smaller groupings, the immediacy of the themes resonated deeply.

Bridgette Campbell, Flynn Platt, and Kevin Dulude in TEIG O’KANE AND THE CORPSE | Photo by Daniel Kitayama

Bridgette Campbell, Flynn Platt, and Kevin Dulude in TEIG O’KANE AND THE CORPSE | Photo by Daniel Kitayama

The evening was broken into two parts with a brief intermission in between. The first play we watched was a World Premiere, Teig O’Kane and the Corpse. Written by Kerry Kazmierowicztrimm from the short story by Ernest Rhys, the first tale we gathered for focused on a young man unwilling to let go of his mother for a year after her passing. After pushing away the life that awaits him, he encounters a re-animated corpse that attaches to him as it refuses to pass on. Together both come to terms with embracing their inevitable transitions and make peace with the lives left behind. The story mirrors the fixation of re-reading the narrative of what happened in ways that prevent you from moving on to the potential ahead. Both leading men immediately create a bond as they help one another out and being so close to their journey only amplified their arcs as we traveled through the space. They encounter entities that attempt to entice them to stay on the paths they're on forever or till it consumes them. The ending brings such a poignant point home about moving on.

During the break, we were able to take a breather in the main hall of the mausoleum that had a gorgeous biblical mural on the ceiling. Painted in the 1920’s, it was such a stunning piece of art that showed the history of Mountain View. We even found out one of the artists painted themselves in one of the scenes and that it was a long comfort to their daughter when she’d go visit him there.

Christopher Wallinger, Lamont Webb, and Richard Large in THE CHIMES | Photo by Daniel Kitayama

Christopher Wallinger, Lamont Webb, and Richard Large in THE CHIMES | Photo by Daniel Kitayama

Speaking of daughters, the second play The Chimes: a Goblin Story took us to the chapel to meet a father who couldn’t let go his only child. Hoping to be allowed to marry her suitor, a young woman lets her father know that she can’t wait for his approval any longer and that she intends to marry her sweetheart. Raging against the union, the father shuns his child and just when he thinks he’s all alone--he’s visited by a pair of goblins in the night. Based on the novella by Charles Dickens and written by Jonathan Josephson, the play takes us to the pews to watch a father see the darkness of his actions in his daughters future. The playful spirits he meets--menacingly played like ghostly wise tricksters, give him a rude awakening in seeing how isolating his family could lead to their end in the face of a cruel world. That instead of sacrificing everything to just work and not value the love that surrounds us as enough could be the most dangerous thing of all.  

This year’s stellar ensemble included new performers like Tessie Barresi, Bridgette Campbell, Daniel Dorr, Hope Lauren, Kelly Pierre, Flynn Platt, Christopher Wallinger, and Lamont Webb. Engaging performances and thought-provoking direction make these new stories shine during a time that needs it the most.  

If you’re in LA and seeking something to do that celebrates the traditions of the season, get yourself to Wicked Lit.  There are two shows, one at 7:30 and another at 9:00. For more info take a look at their site for dates and ticket prices.

Sabina Graves