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Review: Count’s Den resurrects Mysterian’s Mysterious Mysteries with “The Fox Sisters”

Update: Since originally posting, this article has added a review of “The Fox Sisters”

Top of page: The father of the mediumistic Fox Sisters prays for deliverance from ghosts haunting his house.

Mysterian's Mysterious Mysteries: The Fox SistersMysterian’s Mysterious Mysteries is returning to the Count’s Den in June. The series of one-man plays investigates real-life mysteries and uncanny events in a format that suggest a live-stage rendition of a true-crime podcast: as host Mr. Ian, actor Ian Heath recites the facts via prerecorded video while simultaneously enacting the characters in front of the audience.

The series presented two episodes in 2022, “Jack the Ripper” and “Roswell.” The new episode, “The Fox Sisters,” is based on a trio of sisters who rose to prominence as mediums in the mid-1800s. They were the first to conduct a seance for the paying public; their fame launched the spiritualist movement that lasted until the early 20th century. What is perhaps most intriguing about the story is that, later in life, one of the sisters admitted to fakery, but that did nothing to quell the increasing popularity of spiritualism.

“The Fox Sisters,” runs on June 8-9 and 22-23, starting at 7pm each night. Additionally, the previous episodes will be revived: “Jack the Ripper” on June 8-9; “Roswell” on June 22-23. Start time for both shows is 9pm.

Tickets for all three shows are available individually for $25 each. Audiences can also purchase double-bill tickets for $35 to see “The Fox Sisters” and “Jack the Ripper” on June 8-9 or “Fox Sisters” and “Roswell” on June 22-23.

Mysterian's Mysterious Mysteries: The Fox Sisters (review)

Rating Scale

1 – Poor
2 – Mediocre
3 – Good
4 – Great
5 – Excellent

Fox Sisters Stage Review
Mr. Ian invites you to enjoy the mysterious mystery of the Fox Sisters.

Like its predecessors, the “Fox Sisters” installment of Mysterian’s Mysterious Mysteries offers two major points of appeal: (1) the confounding nature of its real-life story with its contradictory first-hand accounts; (2) the interplay between its recorded video and its live performance, with the former providing the facts and the latter adding a human face to the tale. The spiritualist element of this episode, with its haunted house and seances, provides atmospheric opportunities for the live-action portion raise that make “The Fox Sisters” Mr. Ian’s most intriguing mystery so far.

The Fox Sisters: Mediums or Frauds?
Fox Sisters Stage Review
Seats arranged as if for a seance inside the Count’s Den

Though not interactive in the traditional sense, there is an immersive element to “The Fox Sisters.” The seating has been rearranged since previous episodes of Mysterian’s Mysterious Mysteries: with the decor of the Count’s Den suggesting a parlor, the chairs form almost a semi-circle around the performance area, putting the audience in the position of attendees at a seance. As actor Ian Heath invokes spirits, steps among the viewers, and even takes a seat in the audience, the sense of being involved in the action is stronger than ever, augmented by eerie lighting and a moody aural soundscape. In a figurative sense, he summons the dead: the gallery of real-life characters, believers and non-believers, spring to life to tell their versions of events, and the tongue-in-cheek touch of having them talk back the screen is more fun than ever.

The story itself takes unexpected turns, “solving” its mystery early on when one of the sisters confesses to fraud. Onscreen, Mr. Ian acknowledges this de-mystification of his precious mystery but then takes us deeper into the story. The confession, allegedly made for money, was later recanted. Experts brought in to debunk the spiritualistic phenomena either expressed belief or, if they proclaimed it fraudulent, were unable to explain the fakery. The story also takes a detour into the case of another family of mediums, in this case brothers, noting that less famous stories are sometimes equally intriguing.

In the end, the goal is not to sow doubt about whether the Fox Sisters were genuine. Rather, the mystery lies in pondering why participants and observers can come to different, contradictory conclusions based on the same evidence. In this case, even a confession of fraud did not dim belief in the spiritualist movement, which continued to thrive – nor even in the Fox Sisters themselves, whose most ardent followers remained convinced in their powers.

Review: Conclusion
Fox Sisters Stage Review
In an “investigative, immersive” display, viewable during intermission, a Ouija board recalls the spiritualist movement spearheaded by the Fox Sisters.

As with previous installments of Mysterian’s Mysterious Mysteries, the show feels like a “Strange But True” tv show or podcast enhanced with live performance. Even if you are convinced that the Fox Sisters were frauds, the story’s real-life details are intriguing precisely because they refuse to resolve to the obvious conclusion. More important, the live-action element brings the story to life in the most engaging way yet.

Note: The show also includes “investigative immersive” display in an upstairs room, which functions like a sort of mini museum consisting of evidence and artifacts relating to the stories.

“The Fox Sisters” continues at the Count’s Den on 22-23, starting at 7pm, followed by the “Roswell” episode at 9pm. Tickets are $25 for one show, $35 for a double bill. The address is 1039 S Olive Street in downtown Los Angeles. Get more information at thecountsden.com.

Check out our video interview with Ian Heath below…

Steve Biodrowski, Administrator

A graduate of USC film school, Steve Biodrowski has worked as a film critic, journalist, and editor at Movieline, Premiere, Le Cinephage, The Dark Side., Cinefantastique magazine, Fandom.com, and Cinescape Online. He is currently Managing Editor of Cinefantastique Online and owner-operator of Hollywood Gothique.