Séance arrives at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, with the experimental theatrical experience aiming to “explore the psychology of a group of people who have been bombarded with suggestible material.” Perhaps not too different from the concept behind a real séance – the nervous, fearful energy of those within the shared experience unintentionally heightening the mood of terror and the supernatural. One of two projects from Darkfield at the Fringe, Séance sits parallel to fellow shipping container experience Flight.
As part of Séance we are invited into the twenty-four foot shipping container packed with a Victorian-inspired decor from plush red velvet seats, hanging lampshades and bells, and a table (that appears to be moving at several moments throughout). Audiences are instructed to equip their headphones after a warning from Pleasance staff that if overwhelmed take the headphones off but remain seated. Séance then plunges its unnerved audience into darkness.
Without going into spoiler-heavy rundowns of the content of the actual sonic experience itself, Séance successfully crafts an aura of unease and full immersion in the experience. The pitch black darkness is all-consuming, whilst the audience almost feels powerless to the sounds attacking us from both sides. The complete immersion is the real selling point of Séance, crafting a fear different to say that of watching horror film where our eyes can wander round the theatre looking for distractions in moments of great horror. There is no escape within the atmosphere which Darkfield crafts – other than taking your headphones off, but who wants to do that?
All-consuming sound design truly elevates the craftsmanship of Séance. Figures moving around the room, floorboards creaking and ghostly breezes in various directions fully immerse us in the Victorian séance room environment. The invasive whispers of our sinister spiritualist and the nervous responses from fellow audience members craft a sense of further immersion.
For those seeking some immersive, all-consuming supernatural thrills, Séance is a delightful break from the conventional Edinburgh Fringe theatrical experience.