Posts Tagged ‘séance




Realscape Productions & Darkfield

September 8 -29 2018

Treasury Brisbane Arcadia

Reviewed by Xanthe Coward

Step inside, take a seat, but don’t get comfortable.

The tension builds even as we wait outside the 40ft shipping container, alongside the explosion of colour, sound, story and art of the River of Light to be briefed about what not to do once inside Séance. I’d intended to experience it earlier in the evening but Hamnet was late to go on, giving us a good excuse to chat for longer in the foyer of QPAC’s Cremorne, catch up with MFAC & Queensland Conservatorium graduate, Rebecca Rolle, and find out what everyone is seeing this Brisbane Festival! A popular choice, but with a limited capacity of just 26 punters per show, and a big buzz about this unique piece might make it hard for you to get a ticket, but you must try. And if you miss out at the box office it’s worth waiting nearby in case someone doesn’t turn up (or opts out!). Séance is something completely, thrillingly different.

The UK’s Glen Neath and David Rosenberg (Darkfield) have designed an intense, immersive sensory deprivation experience, using 3D sound technology and sonic vibrations that eerily conjure enough auditory evidence to convince us that we’re in the presence of spirits summoned from beyond the grave. But it’s only suggested, making this as much an investigation into the psychology of an audience, as it is in theatre making. We might argue that that’s the same thing. By blurring perception and reality, the creators of Séance almost convince us that we’re communing with the dead. It’s terrifyingly real…

I’m not a horror fan. In fact, all things considered, I’m pretty okay to take off to Sri Lanka in the final week of the festival and entirely miss that other theatrical / psychological experiment, HORROR. What I mean is, I’ll actually be in Sri Lanka and miss it. Let me know how you go with it.” rel=”attachment wp-att-17501″> Where I’ll be instead of experiencing Jakop Ahlbom’s homage to the horror genre


We’re seated opposite each other, in two rows of red velvet vintage theatre seats along the walls of the narrow space, a long timber table running down the centre, upon which we’re asked to place our hands. Noise-cancelling headphones are found to our left and we’re asked to put these on. If ever we’re super scared we can remove them but we can’t leave… I’m fine for a while, as the lights flicker and go out, leaving us in the blackest of black. We hear various aspects of a well considered, cleverly constructed multi-layered soundscape, placing us smack bang in the middle of the sort of traditional séance our mothers and grandmothers warned us about. Rather than sit for 20 minutes in a a state of high alert, I let the yoga breath kick in and allow my shoulders to drop away from my ears as I try not to frown (because frown lines), listening intently. I hope there’s no audience participation. A sense of dread fills me as I’m told in a whisper that I have a special role to play here. What!?

Alarmed, I close down my eyes.

It’s so dark it makes no difference to open or close them but it must be safer to close them?

How much time has even passed? I gradually become aware that I can feel the warm breath of the speaker in my ear………….


Without giving too much away, our perception of reality is challenged by the power of suggestion and our imagination, and perhaps our fight or flight response is primed! I was rattled, but others will thrill at the suggested horror, and the strange, shared, intense and immersive sensory experience of Séance.