What's Inside This Silver Lake Shop? (Hint: A Cavern)

The Machine Project's latest installation is whimsical and mysterious.

Los Angeles is often called a city of mysteries.

And with good reason, too. We're so frequently inside our cars and random vehicles, passing places, never knowing what is inside the shopfronts we fly by day after day.

Take the shopfront at 1200 North Alvarado in Silver Lake. You'd glance at it, thinking that 99-cent goods might be sold within, and then the thought would be gone. And yet there's a cavern inside it, a haunted cavern, no less, and a Victorian-style theater.

Nope, Halloween isn't quite over. Not quite.

The Alvarado Caverns and Mystery Theater is the major and mysterious offering from The Machine Project, an arts-and-science collective that celebrates poetry, song, painting, the sciences, imagination, and all of the visual and esoteric creative pursuits. The collective's storefront gallery, which indeed appears to be some sort of discount item shop from the outside, has become a walk-through, hand-built cavern and will remain so for much of November.

Open dates: Thursdays through Sundays through Nov. 24. Update: Open hours are now Thursday through Saturday evenings through the 24th.

Adding to the quirk and whimsy is one must enter the cavern portion of the storefront through a hole in the bathroom's wall. And the 18-seat theater in the basement? That shall feature a rotating roster of performers. Look for artists and scientists and playwrights to croon and chitchat and do tricks and engage in parlor-type presentations that summon a certain Edwardian-era feel.

It's not your typical haunted house or scary experience. Call it subtle spookiness for smarties desiring a different autumn-style experience.

Tickets to performances are $15, though a few shows are free. 

And just be sure to ponder what really might be behind the next few storefronts you drive by. Could be what's advertised in the window. Could be a mysterious cavern and old-timey venue full of wonder.

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