In Arts + Entertainment

Séance: Theatre In Complete Darkness Hits Sydney

Fresh from a sell-out season at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Séance: Theatre in Complete Darkness has opened in a dedicated shipping container in The Rocks.

“You can back out now if you want to,” says the young man standing in front of us.

No one moves.

“Great,” he says and detaches the rope from the bollard, giving us access to the entrance of the 12-metre-long shipping container.

We’re about to walk into the 6pm showing of Séance: Theatre in Complete Darkness on its Sydney opening night. After a sell-out season at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the start of the year and a two-week stint in Melbourne earlier this month, the theatrical experience moved to Atherden Street in The Rocks and will be set-up there for three weeks.

Séance Theatre In Complete Darkness Hits SydneyThe brainchild of UK-based creative geniuses Glen Neath and David Rosenberg, Séance combines the concept of a traditional séance with cutting-edge sound technology and sensory deprivation.

The young man pulls back the curtains to the shipping container and we file in, wedging ourselves down either side of the table running the length of it. Once inside, we’re told to space ourselves out among the red velvet theatre seats along the container’s wall and place our bags on the floor.

The show is held in the vessel because, according to Glen, they’d hoped to customise the space entirely. The two previous tours had shows in venues of all shapes and sizes and this time around, they were after a place to make their own.

Séance Theatre In Complete Darkness Hits Sydney“We wanted to make a bespoke portable space that we could have complete control over. The seating set-up suggested a séance and as it was such a short intense experience, it seemed sensible for each audience member to bring a bit of the narrative along with them. We’ve all had some experience of a séance.”

Back in the container, the show’s about to start. We’re seated with our headphones on and our ears and eyes on high alert. The young man warns us he’s about to turn the lights off. And then he does, and we’re in total darkness. It begins.

Séance Theatre In Complete Darkness Hits SydneyGlen says the reason the show happens in a pitch-black setting is to ensure every guest has an experience that’s just for them. Without anything to see, taste, smell or touch, their focus is solely on what they’re hearing.

“We’ve had many different responses. Some people find the darkness soothing whilst for others it is terrifying. Some people have even tried to escape,” he says.

So, what exactly happens during the show? What could possibly elicit such varied audience reactions?

Séance Theatre In Complete Darkness Hits SydneyWe’ll leave that for you to find out.

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Published 26 November, 2017