Theater Review: Delusion’s Alt Delete

altdeleteposter_R11_highresAs we approach Halloween in Los Angeles, there are no shortage of spooky events to attend, from amusement park horror nights to intense one-on-one extreme haunts. Delusion first burst onto the scene in 2011 with their first “haunted play”—an escape room, haunted maze, and narrative play rolled into one. What set the event apart was the focus on a storyline. While participants still move through a location, usually a large private home in the LA area, encountering creepy elements along the way, it is a lot more than just jump scares. You are a part of a story, and this is the reason Delusion‘s devoted fans return year after year, excited to see the latest saga creator Jon Braver and his team have cooked up. On top of that, the productions always feature elaborate sets, stunts, and effects, as well as original music.

I have been to multiple Delusion shows in the past, and they are typically a full-length experience of about an hour. This year, they are trying something new—Alt Delete is a spin-off chapter from last year’s Delusion: The Blue Blade, a story that centered around time travel. Taking place at The Dragon and Meeple, a tabletop gaming pub near the USC campus, Alt Delete is a mini show with a running time of only 20 minutes.

After I checked in at The Dragon and Meeple, I was given a wristband with a group number, as well as a directive. Following the host’s instructions, I went to the bar and ordered a specific drink, and the bartender passed me a slip of paper with information that would become important later. A few minutes later, my group was instructed to gather outside, where we were given a briefing—the story we were about to take part in involved Professor Evelyn Lowell and her black market time travel business. We would be playing the role of “underwriters,” responsible for repairing the timeline and eliminating some of the risks created by her tampering. Alt Delete has a maximum group size of six people, although my group had only four.

Unfortunately, our experience began on a rough note with a technical glitch in the first room we entered. We spent several minutes trying to figure out a passcode to unlock an iPad that surely contained our next directive, only to discover after giving up and asking for help that this “puzzle” was not part of the show—the device was meant to be unlocked when we entered the room. From there, things went much more smoothly as we used information gathered during the pre-show to obtain our next instructions, eventually crawling through a doorway into the main space for the show, where we met an actor who guided us through the remainder of the story.

There are certainly a few spooky elements—a dark hallway with a mysterious figure and a severed arm come to mind—but in general, the atmosphere for Alt Delete is more campy than frightening. The story takes place in the 80s, which is reflected in the detailed set design. After overcoming the early frustration, my group found a groove and had a fun experience during the main part of the show. What is unfortunate is that just as the action seems to be picking up, the show is over. And we ended the night a bit unclear on if we had actually achieved our mission—at least one piece of information we were instructed to remember early on never became relevant. Based on some post-show words from our host, I suspect there are two potential outcomes to this story and each group is assigned one of them, since I cannot pinpoint a moment where we could have altered the ending we experienced.

Overall, Alt Delete does not compare to the full-length Delusion shows, and will likely be the most satisfying to diehards who loved The Blue Blade. For newcomers to the series it would probably be disappointing due to its incredibly short run time, and the $38 ticket price seems steep considering the experience you get. One pro tip though—if the host asks if you are afraid of heights, say no, even if, like me, you actually kind of are. It’s worth it.

Delusion’s Alt Delete runs at The Dragon and Meeple through December 15th. Shows run every Wednesday-Sunday from 5:40pm to 11:40pm with showtimes every 20 minutes. Tickets are $38 for the show only, which runs about 30 minutes including a 10-minute pre-show, or $73 for a full show and dinner experience, including a meal, 2 alcoholic beverages, and a tabletop gaming fee. Participants must be 13 years old and up, with any minors accompanied by a parent or guardian. The show involves brief bending, crawling, and running, and should be avoided if those activities are not for you. Please note that you cannot bring any bags into the show, and while there is a complimentary coat check, it is not very secure, so I would recommend leaving extraneous belongings in the car. To read all rules and guidelines and purchase tickets, click here.

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