15 minutes of theatre in the dark
Two years ago, I went to a show at the Pleasance during Edinburgh’s Fringe Festival. I left the people that I knew, was given a seat number, put on some headphones and walked into completely dark room. There were no lights to be seen. People around me rustled and shifted in their seats. I felt unsettled. Then a soft, French, female voice whispered to me from behind. She was to guide me through a dreamlike experience over the next hour, in what was one of the most immersive experiences I have ever had. I was terrified but intrigued.
The show was called Fiction and it was created by Glen Neath and David Rosenberg. The pair had been, for some time, experimenting with binaural sound – a spatial audio technology which, when played through headphones, creates a very personal and impactful experience.
Fiction was an hour-long show which, although I found it thrilling, was long and dreamlike enough that I questioned whether I had actually fallen asleep during the performance (in the darkness it was hard to tell). It seems that I was not the only one as some audiences found the experience of being in the dark for that long hard to deal with.
This year, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Neath and Rosenberg have returned with a show that is shorter and more intense than Fiction. Also set in the dark, but this time in a shipping container and only for 15 minutes, their new show Séance is a terrifying experience where 20 people are exposed to other-worldly creatures.
The performance is almost more like a ride, than a standard piece of theatre. With 19 others, I walked into a shipping container which had rows of cinema seating on either side of a long table. There were plenty of giggles from each of us as we were unsure what to anticipate from this performance. We began putting on our headphones.
A curtain rustled and, shortly after, the space turned pitch black. We were joined a medium who began a séance ritual which included whispers, jolts and moving tables. I won’t give away anything else other than to say that my heart jumped and I held my breath – a lot.
It was an exhilarating 15 minutes which I would certainly recommend.