As the brainchild of Glen Neath and David Rosenberg, who have been collaborating since 2012 with sell-out shows such as Ring and Fiction, Séance does not disappoint. Promising an ‘intense sonic performance’, the show submerges you into total darkness. Only the dialogue from headphones and the faint whimpers of fellow audience members are heard amidst the bone-chilling vibrations protruding from every surface during this 20-minute miniature, in which it would seem anything could happen.
Imagine all the terror and trepidation surrounding horror films, following sympathetic characters we know are due an undeservingly gruesome fate. Now double, triple, quadruple it, and you’ll be somewhere close to the effect of Séance. It is an immersive horror theatre experience held in a pitch-black shipping container where each audience member is their own helpless protagonist – trapped alone in this relentless provocation of one’s own psychology and imagination, and at the same time bound as a unit in a collective and resounding dread.
Oozing with atmosphere from the second you walk into the room, a claustrophobically narrow room dimly lit with Gothic-style lamps and accompanying décor, several audience members were forced to excuse themselves before the show even began. Those who were still cautious were encouraged to take off their headphones during the performance in case it became too much. Indeed, Séance is a terrifying psychological trip that is definitely not for the faint-hearted. That said, I find it difficult to believe anyone could leave feeling anything less than immensely impressed.
Upon seating themselves to face each other on either side of a table that spread the whole length of the room and a bulk of the width, audience members were instructed to place headphones provided onto their ears, after which darkness was allowed to descend. Hands were placed on tables, and slowly but surely, a dark narrative followed which could test even the most sound of mind.
The attention to detail was immense, from the unsettling sensation of breathing in the ear to the vibrations accompanying the violent activity and sounds occurring throughout the performance. The result? An exhilarating joy ride through an imagined encounter with the supernatural where each audience member present has the individual experience of having their own starring role in a chilling narrative, attached to reality only by the knowledge that everybody else in the room, like themselves, are perfectly safe with their hands firmly pressed on the table… or are they?
Summerhall (Venue 26)
Until 26th August
Photo credit: Fiona Rita Blyth