Give Up the Ghost is one of the more unique Halloween experiences we’ve visited this season. It reverses the typical haunt, instead calling on us, the guests, to play our dead selves. It is not gory, and there are no jump-scares. In Give Up The Ghost, it’s the choices you make that will haunt you. They will change your own story, and may even change the entire narrative. Located at the First Christian Church of Whittier, we were given multiple stories of space to roam. Some scenes were free range, some could be entered only when escorted by a ‘Shadow.’ We navigated some scenes as a group, but others we had to visit alone.
We first noticed that the set design and decorations were sparse. But as we adjusted to the theme and learned to behave as ghosts, we realized that the immersion really came from the interactions with the powerful and dedicated actors. Similar to immersive theater powerhouses Delusion and Creep LA, you have a lot of control of what you get out of the experience. You can choose to watch from the sidelines, but we always find participation is key! And it did take us a bit to learn how to. There were a lot of guidelines that were essential to the narrative such as how and when you can follow a Shadow, interaction with props and ways in which we could interact with the actors. We were ghosts after all, things were a little different here. Fortunately the rules are covered in the audio you are sent prior to visiting, and reiterated upon check in. It was a little excessive but there are so many moving parts that we can see why it’s essential that we were clear on how to ‘play.’
A few of the scenes deal with very heavy issues such as the loss of a child, a serious car accident, domestic abuse and more. We really appreciated that they offer scene warning cards upon check in. This creates a more inclusive environment, as those who are worried about triggers can navigate around those scenes and still participate in the experience. While the majority of the vignettes are dark and tragic, there are definitely some humorous moments as well. We loved messing with the duo of paranormal investigators – dancing in front of their recording devices, whispering answers, lightly touching their arms as we passed by. Their reactions were fantastic and we were amazed when they didn’t break character. Same with a group of teens playing on the Ouija board. Their gasps of shock, terror and curiosity as we moved the planchette to spell out responses were very entertaining. We found it both heavy and amusing to portray ghost roles.
When there was a lull between scenes we wandered over to the small stage in the center. There were two spirits there, one representing Mercy and one representing Justice. They asked each of us a variety of tough questions. There were no right or wrong answers, but that didn’t make it any less nerve-wracking to complete. They then weighed our hearts to see which force we were ultimately ruled by. Turns out one half of the Haunt List is ruled by Mercy, and the other half by Justice!
This is an expanded version of One Last Thing Before You Go, the award-winning Hollywood Fringe Festival production from last year by Spectacular Disaster Factory. We’d love to see the team continue to build, broaden and refine this concept for future events. Since it is mostly based on the trials and tragedies of human life, there will always be a plethora of content to pull from. If you go in with an open mind and willingness to play along, we think you’ll be impressed with what they’ve put together.
Give Up The Ghost is open Friday nights through 11/15. Run time is about 80 minutes. For more information and tickets head HERE. Get 20% off by using code HAUNTLIST