HERE THE BIRDS BURN, the spirits manifest, and a gothic hallucination is resurrected. Phantasmagorias have long captured the interest of skeptics and believers alike, curious to encounter the paranormal. This forgotten form of horror theater provides a sense of excitement, fear, suspicion, and solace to those eager to obtain evidence of the afterlife. Fasted and hyped up on narcotics, fantasy and reality become blurred as images from a magic projector manifest themselves through a layer of thick fog. The Heritage Square Museum welcomes audiences to experience this lost art form and conjure the spirits of the dead through Stephanie Delazeri’s production of HERE THE BIRDS BURN.
One of the major highlights of HERE THE BIRDS BURN is the level of intellectualism and historical accuracy weaved through the cast of lovable characters. The exceptionally talented Stephanie Delazeri, who wrote, directed, and acted in this production, carefully crafted a cast of zany characters who beautifully paint the experience of attending a phantasmagoria. The dynamic performance of Rene Lovit and Andrew Lipson brings comic relief throughout the production through the playful banter between Arthur, a skeptic naysayer, and Lottie, a carelessly delighted bourgeoisie widow. Sprinkled within their dialogue is compelling historical information that grounds you within 1800s Massachusetts. The sobering performance of Sam Chan serves as a contrast to the lighthearted Arthur and Lottie, by delivering the harsh reality of how grieving family members used phantasmagorias to cope with the loss of loved ones. A feminist aspect was also offered in the play by the delightfully curious reporter Emily Cole played by ShoShanna Green. Her strong convictions and playful demeanor made her a multidimensional and engaging guide for participants. Additionally, a taste of philosophy and challenging moral dilemmas emerged through the thick French accent and bizarre and twisted personality of Phillipe Reynaud, played by Ryan Fisher. His silly childlike demeanor mixed with a sinister philosophy of murder adds a spooky and unsettling aspect to the experience. All of these highly stimulating characters set against the beautiful Victorian houses of the Heritage Square Museum allow you to lose reality to enter the world of the phantasmagoria.
The projector itself is also of note in the experience. Guests can experience how old technologies can be restored and revitalized for modern audiences. Ambient noise and thick fog provide the backdrop for creepy projected imagery. The hand-drawn images transform and shift from the left and right lenses providing an interesting display that is not often seen by contemporary audiences. The storyline becomes less important than the beauty of the images and the use of old technology.
HERE THE BIRDS BURN offers a resurrection of horror theater that you can’t get anywhere else. Overall the experience is more stimulating than scary which can appeal to a wide range of audiences. Being present with the characters as they roam the houses of the Heritage Square Museum, discuss the paranormal, and experience a phantasmagoria is the foundation of the play. The storyline takes a backseat to the small and large group character interactions that place you as a fellow participant anxiously awaiting for the phantasmagoria to take place. HERE THE BIRDS BURN was an entertaining historical horror-themed experience that challenged me intellectually.