Coma @ Summerhall

A new live and immersive experience from Darkfield that sends you to that place between the conscious and the unconscious

Review by Mirren Wilson | 14 Aug 2019
  • Coma @ Summerhall

The clue is in the title with this one. This is an immersive journey in the pitch black that explores the state where consciousness ends and dreaming begins. With Edinburgh feeling very chaotic and busy during the festival, here’s a chance to stop time and disappear into the oblivion.

Darkfield are a revolutionary company that are currently tampering and experimenting with our experiences of theatre. Blending technology with theatricality, they place the audience member in the centre of a live experience, creating work that is immersive and challenging to the mind and body. After previous successes of Séance and Flight, Darkfield’s famous shipping container setting returns to the fringe with Coma.

With roughly 30 other audience members, you take your place inside a metal box containing several individual medical-style bunk beds. All is white and as you put on your binaural headphones, your journey into another state begins. A calming yet severe voice invites you all to take a pill together – any doubts you have are instantly combatted with reassurance and it’s scarily funny how easily some people can be swayed.

It all feels very hypnotic and slightly overwhelming, but not much happens in terms of a story. The mightily impressive sound technology is Coma’s biggest feature as it tricks you into sensing a presence, proximity and danger from some questionable characters. Although you’re fed with scents and contextual clues to build atmosphere and setting, most of your time is spent frozen and waiting in anticipation. And it’s all over in a flash.

This show really plays with your own senses, reactions and paranoia, so each audience member will have an entirely different perspective. Although it doesn’t go anywhere narratively speaking, it’s a brief descent into an unusual and scary state. Coma’s definitely an experience you won’t be forgetting in a hurry and you’ll be wondering if it all really happened in the first place.

Coma, Summerhall (Terrace), until 25 Aug, various times, £5.50-7.50