Amusements @ Summerhall

Review by Mark Harding | 13 Aug 2012
  • Amusements

The set-up for the show is that the audience wear radio-controlled headphones. An actress appears, and we are told we are going on a virtual / internal journey. The narration takes the audience through various scenes and mediations, the connecting theme being the pursuit of pleasure and sensual experience. The actress is skilled and disciplined. The lighting is clever, the music is often lovely, the soundtrack is effective, with cool stereo effects. There's play with the visual versus the aural; the group experience versus the isolation of the headphones.

You have probably guessed by now that there's a 'but.' Unfortunately, despite the repeated claims of the narration, putting on headphones doesn't generate a virtual experience, nor give remote control of consciousness. Time and again the narration tells me what I'm experiencing. And each time what I'm actually experiencing are the words: "No I'm not."

The narration is often distractingly imprecise. I spent my time thinking: Is that description realistic? Would someone really think that? In what way – scientifically? Culturally? Sensually? Is that claim meant? The machine to take you on the journey is terrific: its a shame the road still has so many traffic cones on it.

Summerhall, 11 - 26 Aug. 5:45pm. (45 mins) £8 (£6) http://www.summerhall.co.uk