Séance @ Summerhall

An immersive experience that will have you questioning the senses

Review by Robbie Armstrong | 17 Aug 2017

Stepping into Darkfield’s shipping container, fear of the unknown takes hold. After some vaguely menacing warnings to turn off mobile phones so as to ensure “complete darkness”, you are led into a cramped space with a long table and 20 seats in two rows on either side. With only two dim lightbulbs above and a set of headphones each, the curtains are pulled shut and, sure enough, the room is plunged into total darkness.

It is rare to experience such obscurity; it is so dark in fact that it is impossible to see your own hands in front of your face. It all serves to play tricks on your mind, even before the show begins. Once the sonic experience takes hold, it becomes quite impossible to tell what is going on for some minutes. Strange noises ensue, then the groaning of doors and voices moving around the room as the seance starts. A knocking, the smash of glass, then the door swings open. Or does it?

Seance is just one of three of Darkfield’s shipping containers – a series of “irrational spaces that are at odds with their physical appearance”, brought to us by Glen Neath and David Rosenberg, who have been working together since 2012. And with production help from Andrea Salazar, the show is brought creaking to life. It’s an ultra-techy show that pushes sound design to new heights. It is hair-raising, chilling, freaky, and quite different from anything else you’ll see this August.  

Seance, Summerhall, until 26 Aug, £5, times vary