Séance ****

Summerhall (Venue 26)

Theatre (Acoustic, Immersive)

Aug 24-26

times vary

 

Developed by Glen Neath and David Rosenburg,‘Séance’ is a disturbing immersive experience that takes place in a pitch black shipping container. Using a combination of audio and visual cues, the production tells the unsettling story of a supernatural conjuring, in which the audience is more closely implicated than they had previously thought.

 

As the audience enters the space they are instructed to wear a set of headphones. As the play progresses it becomes increasingly difficult to tell what audio input is coming from the headphones and what is coming from the room. The audio track is carefully balanced to make a spatial illusion around the audience. This illusion is only slightly disturbed if you are sat on the far ends of the container, and so I would personally recommend sitting towards the middle seats.

 

Due to the short nature of the production, it is difficult to discuss ‘Séance’ without ruining its element of surprise. The story is sparse, but almost entirely focussed on the audience as an individual and group entity. Everything in the room is both happening to you and around you, creating an intensely alienating experience.

 

The richness of the production is such that ‘Séance’ could easily have continued for a further 10 minutes. The production relies strongly on the sense of sound, whilst being suggestive of further sensory inputs.

 

The first half of‘Séance’ induces a feeling a terror in the audience, a gradual unease that something has gone awfully wrong. The second half is more concerned with horror, creating a sonically disturbing assault on the listener. While this second half is effective, the prior section is without a doubt the more interesting half of the show. Subtle phrases conjure a distrust of the audience’s senses, even in simple questions such as “Do you smell burning? Is anyone on fire?”

 

‘Séance’ is a uniquely terrifying theatrical experience, and a technical masterclass in sound design. While become somewhat overwrought in its second act, it is a truly frightening show, and a must-see for the horror aficionados of the Fringe.

 

Freddie Alexander