Does the sound of sitting in a pitch-black sea container as voices whisper into your ears and you slowly lose your grasp on reality sound enticing to you?
The multi-sensory immersive theatre shows set inside sea containers that gained popularity through their stints at Fringe WORLD over the past couple of years have announced they will be returning to Perth in May 2021.
Presented by Darkfield and Realscape Productions, Flight and Coma will return to the Perth Cultural Centre from May 20 to June 20, after having their run at this year’s Fringe Festival cut short due to the snap lockdown in February. Over 7,000 Western Australians attended the shows in January before the lockdown was imposed.
We were lucky enough to try out all three shows in one evening during Fringe World 2021, when Flight and Séance (Darkfield’s original and very creepy offering) were joined by Coma, the newest experience from Darkfield that sees audience members clamber into what appears to be hospital bunks, before popping a pill (against all warnings) and listening to the instructions of a mysterious and suspiciously dulcet-toned man. Alone in the darkness, participants lie helplessly awaiting their fate with clenched fists, as the strange mass experiment takes you further and further into a dream state, where you are forced to face your fears.
From Coma we moved on to Flight: the nervous flyer’s worst nightmare, and possibly the most grippingly immersive of the three shows. In Flight, passengers enter the sea container, which has been fitted out with the economy section of a real plane. The attention to detail here really makes the experience all the more realistic, down to the overhead light telling you it’s time to strap your seat-belt on tight.
On your journey, you’ll fly through two realities, towards two possible outcomes in which you either land safely or do not. With air travel being off the cards, it’s probably the closest thing to being on an actual plane that we will experience for some time, so we’re willing to take the risk.
Although not on offer this time around, we finished our trio of shows with Séance, a 20-minute show which mimics a traditional séance using sound and sensory deprivation. Anyone with even a mild suspicion of the occult will be thoroughly disturbed by this one. Engulfed in the darkness and told to put your hands on the long table that runs along the length of the container, try not to take your headphones off as the host calls upon the spirits to come forth.
Experiencing the shows back-to-back left us shaky, unsettled and in need of a drink, but we loved the creativity and the use of voice to construct narratives that felt very real. This is not one for the passive audience-member. If you like being challenged and fully immersed in a show, chances are you’ll have a great time inside.
Darkfield comes from a UK-based team made up of Glen Neath and David Rosenberg. The idea is based on the notion that loss of vision heightens the other senses and makes them more vulnerable to manipulation. Hence, all shows take place inside purpose-built shipping containers and use binaural audio delivered through headphones, with special effects adding to the ambiance and reality of the events as they unfold in the narrative.
With sessions lasting 30 minutes, both Coma and Flight will run at various times from Tuesday through to Sunday at Perth Cultural Centre from May 20 – June 20. You can grab tickets here if you dare!
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