Trying to find the similarities amongst Darkfield’s trio of immersive shows can be an interesting game. First and foremost to pique our attention are the trademark shipping containers that travel the world, installed in public spaces or festival grounds. As we speak, Séance, Flight and Coma are both at London’s King’s Cross and Adelaide Fringe Festival.
The briefing is clear and the format has their signature features. Nobody with a strong fear of darkness or claustrophobia could possibly endure any of these performances. However, I’d encourage everyone to step out of their comfort zone and allow Darkfield to take them into these parallel worlds, where perception is enhanced and distorted with wondrous effects.
Once inside the container, we are invited to settle down and don a headset. An audio track ensures that we’re wearing it the right way around; this is crucial for the intended effect of a tri-dimensional soundscape. Before we are plunged into complete darkness, we are given one last chance to leave the space, but we’re all too curious to give in to temptation, despite the eerie surroundings.
My evening in Lewis Cubitt Square begins with Séance. As the title suggests, we are sat around a table, attempting to summon the spirits of the dead. Not much can be told without the risk of spoiling the enjoyment, but it’s safe to say that the intention of making us uncomfortably close to the unknown is fulfilled. For the first half of our time at the mercy of the spirits, the background noises almost entirely drown out what’s been said. Finding it distracting, it was later confirmed that what I thought a technical flaw, is entirely intentional.
Having previously experienced Coma at the Edinburgh Fringe, my second time is as enjoyable as the first. A meandering speech with a faint storyline leaves plenty of space for imagination. Rather than focusing on making sense of it, this time around I divert my attention towards the technical elements, which are aimed at a wide range of sensory stimulations. Laying down in the dark, I am confined to a bunk bed that is too small for comfort. And yet I savour the deception administered to my brain, feeling somehow detached from my body.
Flight is the piece that I can most easily relate to. A dystopic journey on an airplane shifts repeatedly between the sounds we’re familiar with and those we dread the most. Adrenaline flows as the mare feels real. It’s a spine-tingling, occasionally hair-raising, half an hour that stays with me long after I am released.
Tapping into the fears and anxieties that we face in our day-to-day endeavours, artistic directors David Rosenberg and Glen Neath have an exceptional eye for detail. Their sarcastic look at our contemporary society goes beyond the multi-sensory sonic theme park and their criticism is hidden beneath the fun surface of the experience.
These experimental pieces are at the forefront of our theatrical avant-garde. They’re beautifully crafted and effortlessly delivered, despite the huge amount of work that must be required to make them possible.
Artistic Directors: David Rosenberg and Glen Neath
Booking Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/darkfield-kings-cross-tickets-89213677511 (note that all three pieces can be booked seperately)
Booking Until: 22 March 2020