Supporting the Arts in Western Massachusetts and Beyond

October 24, 2021

Review: Theaterworks, Someone Else’s House (Virtual Performance)

Theaterworks, Hartford CT and Virtually
through October 31, 2021
by R.E. Smith

“Someone Else’s House” replaces the glow of a campfire with that of a computer screen for
this seasonally appropriate, hybrid virtual/live performance ghost story. These types of performances are hard to delineate. Yes, it is a one-man performance, supported by a live production crew, but certain important elements are achieved by video magic, making it very much more like a film.

Jared Mezzocchi, solo actor and the playwright, recounts what he tells us is the true tale of the brief time his family lived in a supposedly haunted house in New Hampshire. Mezzocchi has an amiable presence and laid-back demeanor, which puts the audience immediately at ease, and most importantly, willing to trust his narrative. He’s clearly comfortable with the peculiar foibles of interacting with people who are not really in the room.

The interactive parts are important. As anyone who has attended a Zoom meeting from home knows, the attention can wander when you’re distracted by things like kids and cats. Using a “conjuring packet” containing documents related to the previous occupants, the audience gets to help sketch in some background details. Its disappointing though that the clues really don’t contribute much to the finish of the story. One of the papers is not used directly at all, leaving the participants to wonder when it will be called into action.

Director Margot Bordelon and Mezzocchi work deliberately to keep the proceedings grounded, though sharp-eyed observers will notice little details that hint at something going on beneath the scholarly surface of the script. Though it is his family’s story, Mezzocchi approaches it more as a disinterested observer, making some turns of character later in the show more jarring. They build up such a trust in the exposition that the turning point and denouement seems sudden and rushed.

“Someone Else’s House” is ultimately a shaggy-dog story, a slow build to the trick ending that one knows must come from a scary story, told under the sheets with upturned flashlights. But that’s what makes it both familiar and entertaining, especially in the heart of “spooky season.”

Note: The show can be “attended” in 2 ways, via Zoom viewing from home or by a hosted watch party at the Theaterworks venue. Check website for availability types and dates.