The séance, the favourite parlour pastime of the Victorians, the planchette weaving between yes and no (in any language – Oui! Ja!), the rapping on wood made famous by the Fox sisters, the occasional disgorgement of ectoplasm, fortunately absent in Darkfield’s second show running out of a refurbished cargo container outside the main entrance of Potterrow.
The audience sat around what appears to be a table but is in fact a solid plinth (be aware there is absolutely no legroom whatsoever, making the experience extremely uncomfortable for those who may have mobility issues or simply long legs), they don headphones and the lights flicker out, and the experience begins…
The mechanics of Séance almost identical to neighbouring “immersive thriller” Flight, it suffers in comparison: while that is set in a convincing recreation of the cabin of a passenger jet, a familiar and understood location which requires little imagination, no effort has been made to create an atmosphere conducive to Victorian times, no family portraits, no candelabra, not even an ornate tablecloth, simply bare walls and anachronistic headphones.
A necessary inclusion but wilfully at odds with the premise, it is through these headphones that the brief narrative thunders ahead; where Flight takes thirty minutes, Séance is in and done in twenty, the spirits positively eager to jump through the veil and make themselves known where a slow build-up of tension and sinister intention would be more effective.
With no introduction to the essential central character of the medium who will conduct the sitting and the same meaningless phrases repeated over and over, Séance is a good idea poorly executed made all the more frustrating by how little will and expense would be required to enhance the experience to something much deeper and more powerful.
Séance runs at Pleasance Dome until Monday 29th August