Rochelle vanderHelm— Staff Writer
The only time I have been truly horrified by a play was when I was still a wee child of fifteen and two actors kissed on stage with their actual mouths in front of my very eyes. So, I was curious to see how one makes a play horrifying for the horror and not for the adolescent fear of cooties.
The Haunted is a horror production, written and directed by senior Alicia Bonestroo, that premiered last weekend at the Fourth Avenue Theater. Clocking in under 30 minutes, it certainly was an interesting piece, although the most shocking element was how quickly it was over.
In The Haunted the main character, Skip, is attending a horror-nerds conference at the Winchester House. The combination of location and passion triggers the horrible events in the play. The first act opens with Skip regaling her friend with her favorite ghost stories as grotesque figures creep about in the background. Although my skin didn’t crawl in fear like I had hoped, I did laugh a bit in the second act and my curiosity was piqued by the stories. When my theater companion and I went home we googled the setting of the play, the Winchester House in San Jose, California.
You’ve probably heard of the Winchester House, it’s the one built by the crazy widow who ordered perpetual renovations to her mansion for 38 years in the early 19th century. The architecture is bizarre. There are windows that open to other rooms and doors and staircases that lead to nowhere. Legends say that Sarah Winchester was haunted by the ghosts of those killed by her late husband’s iconic firearm.
My grandma grew up in Barton Mansion, the most haunted house in Redlands, California, which many “paranormal investigators” consider to be one of the most haunted cities in America. My grandma insists the house wasn’t haunted, but has also told me stories that would make your heart shatter on your pelvis bone. This play did not do that.