Playing: Theatre

After completing A Mind Forever Voyaging, I originally intended to play another Infocom game (leaning towards Plundered Hearts or Trinity); but when I sat down to actually play, I was in the mood for some horror. Having read somewhere that The Lurking Horror is jokey and not very horrific, I opted to give Theatre a try instead. This should be interesting, as I have almost no knowledge of this era of IF. Wish me luck, and bless me with advice if you wish!


Theatre is one my top 10 or 12 favorite games. I should warn you that the last 1/3 is pretty different from the first 2/3, kind of a different horror and a little less polished, so I think the middles better than them end. Hope you have fun!

Edit: also if you or anyone else noticed a few similarities to Anchorhead, it’s because this game came first and Michael Gentry borrowed some a puzzle or two.


Oh, I absolutely adore Theatre. It was one of the first text adventure games that I played all the way through, and while I feel that it does have some very weak areas, it was a really great experience overall.

This doesn’t get talked about that much, but the game also comes with a short story about the real (supposedly) haunted theatre that the game is based on. I don’t remember if the story contains spoilers or not, so you might want to put off reading it until later, but it is an interesting read.


Huh, I played the game years ago and never knew about that short story!


Thanks to Cody and everybody else for directing my interest to Theatre. I think I will try that. Horror IF sounds interesting for sure.



Theatre is a nice, atmospheric horror game in which you find yourself trapped in an old, run-down theatre that seems to have malevolent designs for you. The backstory is pieced together out-of-order by collecting torn journal pages as you puzzle your way through the secret passages of the old building.

The puzzles are mostly logical, especially in the early game, and probably all doable with some patience and trial-and-error, though I found myself consulting a walkthrough a few times so I could keep up with the brisk pace at which I plowed through the early parts of the game. This logic breaks down a little towards the end, when I found myself consulting the walkthrough more often and doing things I didn’t completely understand (or which only made sense once they had been done).

The tone is more eerie than outright horrifying (which is fine with me) and is a little inconsistent in places (as if tropes have been pulled from different styles of horror without serious thought as to how they fit together).

All that said, the game was fun and satisfying to play, and I found myself constantly eager to see what would happen next. I don’t quite rate Theatre as highly as Anchorhead or The King Of Shreds & Patches (both of which were probably influenced by this earlier game), but I would still recommend it to players who enjoyed those other titles.


I managed to get about 80% of the way through Theatre before I looked at a walkthrough. I just couldn’t wrap my head around some of the late game puzzles, especially the one where you have to use sunlight to burn an imagine onto a piece of glass. I have no idea if this is something that is scientifically possible or complete moon logic, but either way, I couldn’t figure it out.

I also remember a chandelier that is described as dirty. I became fixated on finding a way to clean it, only to later discover that the puzzle had nothing to do with the chandelier being dirty.

I mentioned earlier that Theatre was one of the first text adventure games that I played seriously, so maybe a lot of this was just me being inexperienced at recognizing and understanding IF mechanics. But a fair amount of reviewers have admitted to struggling with the final art, which makes me think that some of the puzzles would of benefitted from better signposting.

Glad you enjoyed the game!

1 Like

Yeah, it occurred to me to put the lens in the light, but I didn’t know what this would actually accomplish when I did it.

I would have never thought to push the chandelier to make it swing, because I thought from the description that it was lying on the ground.

I also thought I needed to feed the popcorn to the crow (which was described as looking hungry), and it made no sense until after-the-fact that trying to get the crow would cause it to fly inside the building, into a coffin, take the key that I myself was unable to take, and then drop it where I could get it.

Taking a flash photo of a shadow to make it disappear only makes sense if you don’t think about it too hard, and it beats me why throwing the star gem at the young woman saves world!

There’s also a little consistency issue where you can’t take the first corpse you find (or its possessions) because you don’t want to disturb the dead, but you need to lug another corpse around the building to solve a puzzle.


I think I remember something about being able to raise and lower the chandelier?

1 Like

Yeah, I successfully lowered the chandelier, I just thought from the description that, after it was lowered, it was lying on the ground. Maybe it was a failure of reading comprehension on my part, or maybe the wording could’ve been clearer.

Yeah, you have to access it through the help menu. It is a really interesting story, even if it doesn’t have too much to do with the game.

1 Like