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The Witnessing

the unmarked door · Ages 18+ · flashing lights · world premiere · United States of America

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Review by JEFF HEIMBUCH

June 02, 2018 original article

What I liked

The Fringe Festival is always an interesting time, as it showcases productions that might not otherwise get the spotlight. While during the past few years, their immersive offerings were a bit slim, this year the immersive scene seems to have exploded on their schedule. THE WITNESSING is one of them, and a good way for me to kick off this year’s festival.

The show as presented in the form of a lecture, put on by the Daugherty Paranormal Research Center, about a haunting that took place in Utah back in 2010. The Davidson home, the epicenter of the ghostly activity, was plagued by electrical disturbances, demonic jewelry boxes, and phantom 911 phone calls.

The lecture was given by Dr. Daugherty (Jason Field) and his assistant, Alex (Galen Howard), while they showed off artifacts from the home and explained the story. Of course, as they spoke, strange occurrences began to take place.

While there wasn’t a DELUSION or CREEP level of immersive theater going on here, the story did a great job of presenting itself as an actual lecture. Guests were able to view artifacts from the Davidson home, and speak to Alex, prior to the lecture beginning. As it went on, there was a fair amount of audience interaction, as the presenters as questions as they spoke, and passed items around for us to examine.

There was a bit of subtleness to the show as well, with several “blink and you miss it” moments that lead you on to believe that something was just…off about the entire affair.

Though this was considered a ‘horror’ piece, there was a bit of camp to the presentation, something I very much enjoyed. Field’s Dr. Daughtery was just short of an over-the-top paranormal investigator, playing some of the more ‘serious’ bits for laughs, which definitely added more to the show for me. His introduction at the lecture’s start was a great example of this.

However, Howard’s Alex was the stand out for me, as he played it like a man who was becoming increasingly disgruntled by his boss. He also sold the tone of the piece, truly showing how he believed in what was happening, even if his superior didn’t. He was funny, he was sincere, and he really did an excellent job. Lola Kelly’s direction, for both the actors, was spot on, and made it all the more enjoyable.

The score and sound design by Rolfe Kent (of DEXTER fame) was pretty great, and even when it was just droning sounds, it added a subtle layer of dread to the entire piece.

However, overall, it was a fun evening out, and definitely something interesting to do with your friends if you’re looking for a Fringe show to add some creepiness to your day. If you’re a fan of true-life ghost hunting shows, or even The Conjuring, this would be up your alley.

What I didn't like

Though I did enjoy the overall story, written by Sterling Powers, I do wish there was a bit more of a resolution to the piece. The audience is presented with several possibilities, and is even able to offer their own up at one point, but when the show ends, we are left hanging, unsure about what is actually going on.

My overall impression

A Lecture You Won’t Soon Forget

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