Theatre review: Séance

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe: This immersive short theatrical experience takes place in a completely dark shipping container for audiences of no more than 20. Fortunately, it has a slew of performances every day, otherwise people would be climbing over each other trying to bag tickets.

Summerhall (Venue 26)

****

This immersive short theatrical experience takes place in a completely dark shipping container for audiences of no more than 20. Fortunately, it has a slew of performances every day, otherwise people would be climbing over each other trying to bag tickets.

A collaboration between Glen Neath and David Rosenberg who previously brought (similarly pitch-black productions) Ring and Fiction to the Fringe, it’s primarily an binaural experience. Audience members sit facing each other keeping their hands on a long table while wearing headphones. There is a performative aspect as an – obviously unseen – medium walks the length of the table issuing warnings and interrogating the audience but the line between live theatre and the quite brilliant sound design becomes so blurred it is no longer perceptible.

This is, for all intents, a séance. Not a hokey recreation of a Victorian parlour trick but a contemporary experiment in fear and imagination that prods the audience’s rationality to see how strong it is. It’s not going to make you believe in ghosts (although you’ll be surprised how important keeping both hands on the table feels even if you have an itchy nose) but it does demonstrate how easily a belief in the paranormal can be manufactured.

Fear, like comedy, depends on the element of surprise so it’s best not to go into further details of this short 15 minute narrative but safe to say it completely eschews the cheap jump scares which it could so easily have utilised for a technique far more subtle and satisfying.

Perhaps needless to say, THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE – claustrophobics may find it an ordeal. It’s neither a haunted house attraction nor an art installation; it’s a unique investigation into superstition and a chillingly enjoyable experience.

Rory Ford

Until 26 August. Today 1pm, then ­every 20 minutes until 9:40pm (except 4:20pm-6:40pm).