Just in time for Halloween, psychological thrills in The Bone House

Two men dressed in black suits stand in front of a screened image of a cowboy's head as a train comes towards the camera.

Lew Wetherell and Jason Hardwick in The Bone House by Marty Chan. Photo and design credit: Ryan Parker.

I’ve always found the scariest stories aren’t the ones that are larger than life with monsters and imaginary creatures – they’re the ones that could be happening all around you at any time.

And that’s exactly the type of fear Marty Chan’s The Bone House exploits to thrilling effect this Halloween season.

Running October 25 – 31 at the Varscona Hotel (not the Varscona Theatre), The Bone House is an immersive theatre piece premised around a lecture on serial killers given by Eugene Crowley, who enlists the audience’s help to expose the Midnight Cowboy before he strikes again.

Director Jennifer Krezlewicz says The Bone House is not what might be considered a ‘traditional’ piece of theatre. “I love shows that are more intimate and conversational with the audience. I love shows that have that element of less acting, more being in the moment… The Bone House takes away the fourth wall. It’s a psychological thriller playing on people’s fears.”

“The play is set at a lecture on serial killers given by Eugene Crowley who is our profiler, he’s a psychologist studying serial killers and he’s here in Edmonton giving a lecture on serial killers, what makes them tick, and how we never know who it could be. It’s not a scary Halloween mask show, it’s your next door neighbour or the people next to you in the theatre. You never know who the crazy one might be.”

Jennifer says a recurring theme in the show is the idea of control – who has it, how they got it, and what happens when power shifts. “Throughout the show we see people gaining and losing control and the effects of that. Are they far-reaching effects? Are they immediate effects?” That theme is explored not just through the text of the show, but production elements like film, and engaging the audience as a fourth character in the play (accompanying Lew Wetherell as Eugene Crowley, Jason Hardwick as Jacob, and Nicole Grainger as Gabrielle).

And if the tension of the show gets too high for audience members, Jennifer says there are three specific opportunities that audience members who don’t want to continue with the journey of the play can choose to exit the performance. Although, if you re-muster your courage, you’ll have to buy another ticket for the next performance if you’d like to try again.

The Bone House plays at the Rutherford Room of the Varscona Hotel (8208 106 Street) October 25 – 31. Tickets are $32.09. While there isn’t a posted minimum age to see the show, Jennifer recommends audience members be 14 or older to enjoy the show.

Ampersand 27, which is next door to the venue, is offering 10% off food for audience members who show their ticket either before or after the show and has created a signature drink celebrating the show, called The Midnight Cowboy.