Spend an evening with Eugene Crowley and you might get more than you bargained for.
The Bone House is part lecture, part spooky story, and part immersive theatre, inviting audience members to the Varscona Hotel to spend an evening learning about serial killers with Eugene Crowley (played by Lew Wetherell) – self-declared mind hunter and serial killer expert. Accompanied by his assistant Jacob (Jason Hardwick), Eugene takes the audience through an examination of historical serial killers and deep into the mind of present-day serial killers, who Eugene reminds us could be our taxi driver, our neighbour, or even the person sitting next to us at the lecture. During an appearance by Nicole Grainger as Gabrielle, we also bear witness to the birth of a serial killer Eugene is currently hunting, who he calls Midnight Cowboy.
This show is not a traditional piece of theatre and it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Director Jennifer Krezlewicz’s production is spot-on in its representation of a lecture hall from the moment you walk into the show – down to the registration desk, 1 foot raised platform that represents the stage, and stark lighting that you can immediately picture if you’ve ever been in a hotel conference room. The team has taken great care to ensure that it doesn’t feel like you are walking into a performance, and it works.
As Eugene Crowley, Lew Wetherell is completely serious about his quest to hunt down serial killers and intent on convincing the audience to be vigilant about identifying who could (or maybe is) a serial killer in their own communities. Jason Hardwick is his sometimes enthusiastic, sometimes reluctant assistant who does a great job of both directing the audience and channelling and reflecting the audience’s anxieties as they raise throughout the performance. As a side note, Eugene does give the audience three opportunities to step out during the show if the psychological thrill gets to be too overwhelming.
Nicole Grainger’s performance as Gabrielle as she recounts the night she witnessed the birth of the serial killer Eugene calls the Midnight Cowboy is hard to watch because it is delivered so realistically.
Revealing much about the plot or the journey The Bone House takes the audience on will ruin the surprise and the suspense. It is a scary show – to the point where some audience members on opening night were screaming and gasping – but the fear is all created through suggestion, reflection, and imagination… and really, isn’t that the best fear to revel in this close to Halloween?
The Bone House plays at the Rutherford Room of the Varscona Hotel (8208 106 Street) until October 31. Tickets are $32.09. While there isn’t a posted minimum age to see the show, the director 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.