NOTE: This event is now sold out!
NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) – I attended the Thursday night preview for The House That Jack Built at The Hermitage Museum and Gardens in Norfolk. It’s the museum’s 7th Annual Immersive Theatre Series. Patrick Mullins is the creator and director of this year’s show about Jack’s home in Lochhaven, Norfolk.
It was my first time as a guest at a Hermitage Museum production. From the moment you arrive, Mullins brings you into the Lochhaven estate and transports you into the dark tale.
My time slot was 6:20 p.m. On the dot, you enter a side door, marked with a “J”. I immediately found myself feeling terrified as we entered a green-lit room and awaited the instructions for our journey through the home.
After receiving instructions, I was led to a bar area to wait for my turn to explore. I thought this was a break in the action, but the band soon turned into actors and went to their positions.
Guests are given items they have to wear during the entirety of the program, “to keep them safe.” It’s a tangible way the director delivers on the immersive experience.
All the house is the stage and no stone is left unturned in the creation of Jack’s world. The Hermitage Museum’s general decor and the production design work together seamlessly.
I set off on the journey of piecing the story together. It became obvious why it was important to wear good walking shoes. I walked up stairs, down stairs, through hallways, and around rooms trying to sew the scenes together to create a full plotline.
I found myself following the actors, being led to different parts of the home, and stepping back to avoid disturbing the scenes.
Sometimes, guests found themselves participating in the story. Some guests were asked to dance in scenes. Some were offered a beverage and a bite. Others were asked to sing along.
The ominous static, crackling noise that repeats throughout the production added to the aura of uneasiness. I was not sure if it was there to signal something in the story, or to heighten the eerie atmosphere.
Guests are not allowed to speak during the show. If you feel the urge to talk to each other, you will have to take a break in the bar area to discuss questions, storylines, and clues or wait until you exit the home.
At the start of the visit, you are told you can stay until the night ends at 9:40 p.m. They suggest staying for more than one turn. By the end of my visit, two and a half hours had passed. I could have spent another hour at the show, making sure I did not miss any scenes. For this reason, the earlier time slots offer more valuable time to put the story together.
The show is not intended for children. All guests must be 18 years or older.
Beginning Friday, March 3, visitors can step into The House That Jack Built at the Hermitage Museum and Gardens and experience the tale for themselves. The show runs through March 20. All of the performances are now sold out. Click here to find more information.
Good luck, and come prepared to dive into Mullins’ world of mystery!