One thing most of the Fringe’s audience probably have in common is that they have never had a desire to spend 15 minutes in the pitch-black darkness inside a shipping container. And yet Summerhall has been offering just this opportunity to 20 people over 20 times a day each day of the festival. This opportunity is Séance, a show that takes place inside a shipping container in which you cannot see and promises to be terrifying.
Glen Neath and David Rosenberg and their company Darkfield specialise in these kinds of strange experiences that take place inside dark shipping containers. For Séance, the audience enter and sit either side of a long table. Low lighting still glimmers from hanging lamps. We are instructed to don big black headphones and asked to leave now, not during the show, if we feel too uncomfortable. And then, the séance commences.
This show is all about making us question what we believe in. An aural landscape blossoms into life inside the headphones, making the audience feel they are really sat at a table at a Victorian-style séance, the spirits about to be summoned by a creepy and all-too-real medium who seems to pace around the room. It’s fascinating, scary and invites us to ponder our relationship with superstition, death, the supernatural and more.
Unfortunately, Séance is not actually that scary. As someone very averse to watching horror films, I can confirm that I was just fine. It’s almost more about how much you work yourself up just as the lights flash off, and the way the ensuing total darkness seems to suspend you in time and space. The show is so short that it barely has time to have a profound effect, and I would have preferred it to go on longer. However, the ending is deliciously chilling. Though it’s over all too quickly, the bright sunshine you emerge into does bring relief.
Séance is an experience, completely different from anything else you’ll see at the Fringe. I would recommend it if you’re looking for something that will grip you in a way that most narrative theatre won’t, not if you’re looking to be genuinely frightened.
Séance played at Summerhall until August 26. For more information, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/seance