Darkfield: Eulogy & Séance - Pleasance Edinburgh Fringe
The darkness reveals all
Fringe staples Darkfield arrived in Edinburgh with not one but three of their flagship shipping containers, and because I don’t value my sanity I experienced two of them back to back. For those unaware of the immersive worlds Darkfield create, the metal rooms exist in pitch black. Participants wear headphones that absorb them into the story, the pinpoint precise 360-degree audio is seriously impressive, it truly feels like other people are moving around in the space, circling you, whispering in your ear. My eyes began to see shapes in the darkness, my brain working overtime to understand the mismatch of senses.
The first container I stepped into was Eulogy. Completely unaware of what to expect we were positioned in the type of trolleys used to move laundry around hotels, each of us perched precariously inside one, the metal clinking together gently. Once the experience began I found myself greeted by a companion in a hotel, somewhere between life and death I think? The unique element to Eulogy is that our headphones are equipped with microphones, ready to listen to the answers we give to the questions asked of us. Simple yes or no questions determine the outcome of our journey through the hotel, the tiny interaction promoting us into more than passive participants to the events taking place around us - a placebo sense of control. There is no denying that the whole ordeal is a little on the disturbing/existential side, almost rollercoaster-like in that it induces an adrenaline response that thrill seekers will adore.
Next up was Séance, the shorter of the two on offer outside Pleasance Dome. For this one, we sit in two rows opposite each other. We are told to place our hands on the table between us and the experience begins. We are guided as a group by a medium, determined to commune with spirits unknown. He seemingly manhandles are fellow compatriots (only in the audio, there are no live actors), forcing them to lie on the table. We feel him pacing across the table, the wood shifting under his weight - though I wasn’t sure if I was just imagining it. The output is similar to that of I in that it triggers the flight or fight response as we struggle to comprehend what is real and what exists purely in the audio encounter.
Darkfield are masters of their craft. They’ve created a suite of unique experiences (more coming soon), that are unforgettable. When people ask what you saw at the fringe, it will be impossible not to attempt to describe the feeling of being sat in the dark with a group of strangers as voices guide you through the unknown - spine-tingling and exhilarating.