If you weren’t able to get a ticket to Delusion: The Blue Blade last Halloween, the interactive, action-adventure play has returned with a whole new ending. This ‘director’s cut’ edition will run through March 17 and, unlike last fall, it’s not completely sold out yet.
Delusion has often been billed as a ‘haunted play,’ having launched in the fall of 2011 as a horror attraction. Yet their sixth show, The Blue Blade, is a departure, relying less on foreboding mansions and gothic tropes and more on science-fiction. According to Delusion creator Jon Braver, The Blue Blade is inspired by Raiders of the Lost Ark; there’s even a scene where participants must outsmart Nazis, a common and hated foe of archaeologist Indiana Jones. Also, there’s a ton of time travel, something Braver said caused him a bit of writer’s block after reading a couple of books on the topic.
“I lost my mind for a couple months. I mean, no joke, I fell into a weird space. I was like, ‘this is too trippy for me,’ and I couldn’t write anymore,” he said. “At some point, [I decided] forget the physics of time travel, don’t think too much about all that. Just forget that stuff and stick to the story.”
The story in question revolves around the titular Blue Blade, a cerulean dagger that allows whosoever wields it to cut through the fabric of time. This kind of thing can have pretty disastrous effects on reality, so the Blade was one of many relics protected by the clandestine Safeguard Society. Until, that is, one of their agents, Evelyn Lowell, absconded with the Blue Blade and began charging monied clients high sums to take time-vacations. You and up to seven other recruits from the year 2019 must now shift through time to find Evelyn and reclaim the Blade before it’s too late. Or… too early? I mean, time is weird.
Guests to Delusion: The Blue Blade will find themselves checking in at a private venue near Mid-City that, from the outside, presents an unassuming theater marquee. After being briefed by a fellow agent, guests will be lured inside the theater where both the outside world and the year 2019 melt away. Time periods flow into one another, despite being decades, sometimes centuries, apart. There are puzzles to solve, secrets to unlock, and a cast of heroes, villains, and monsters to assist and evade. It’s worth emphasizing that the sets are truly wondrous with a lot of surprising tech, and there’s at least one costume that’s sure to blow anyone who isn’t a stone-hearted curmudgeon away.
The characters—all of whom are double- or triple-cast—will feel familiar with sci-fi and adventure fans. The self-serving Agent Stanfeld is loosely based on Raiders villain Arnold Toht. The most empathetic character turns out to be the android Carrick, who provides much of the show’s story as well as some mid-show levity. His robotic, yet vulnerable demeanor may remind one of a more humanoid C-3PO. And Evelyn herself is a complicated one, replicating over and over through time as she loses her sense of who—and when—she is.
Braver said he often sees his characters as actors in his mind who activate and freeze as he writes, as if he himself has control over their sense of time.
“One of my favorite things about writing any kind of story is when I’m writing a scene and [the characters] are doing something in my mind, and I have to leave. I have to stop writing and go pick up my daughter at school or whatever it is. I feel like that character is frozen in time,” he said. “[When] I start typing again, they literally, in my mind, start moving again and it’s such a cool feeling.”
It’s hard to classify a piece of theater like Delusion. You’re not wandering around a space waiting for scenes to unfold, like one might at New York City’s Sleep No More, and it isn’t an escape room where you should tear apart the set looking for clues. Though you will need to interact with objects, you’ll have instructions as to what you’re supposed to be doing and characters who lead you through the winding scenes. Escape room fans will find less to do than usual, while traditional theater fans will find themselves more engaged than ever.
If you went to The Blue Blade during its first run, you might be wondering what’s changed. My first time, I felt like I had missed a fair bit of the story. Part of this was due to narrow passageways my group of eight was forced to navigate. I often took up the rear and found myself getting truncated versions of the story as I waited for everyone else to make it into the next scene. During the director’s cut, I felt like the exposition was a bit more clear and I wasn’t missing anything, even though I navigated those same corridors. But the most significant change is the ending, which has been completely reworked to present a conclusion I found much more satisfying and full-circle. According to Braver, many of these changes are ideas they had initially but were unable to achieve in the first run for budgetary or other reasons.
Another significant change is that for the first time, Delusion is opened to guests younger than 21. Families may now bring children age 13 or older. (Be aware that are some minor jump scares, some mild gore, a few monsters, and scenes with Nazi imagery. There’s also no accounting for other patrons who may shout curse words in surprise or joy.)
Delusion: The Blue Blade runs select night through March 17. Tickets are $95 and up and can be purchased online here. The venue is located in Mid-City, to be revealed to ticket holders. There is an attached venue where food and drinks can be purchased before or after the show.