Seance review at Summerhall, Edinburgh – ‘creepy binaural experience’
Darkness is a canvas. We fill it with our fears. We populate it with monsters of our making.
Glen Neath and David Rosenberg’s Seance is a 15-minute experience for an audience of 20 that takes place at regular intervals throughout the day in a customized shipping container.
We sit on velvet chairs around a long, narrow table with bells suspended above it. We don headphones and are invited to place our hands on the tabletop before the lights go out and the room is plunged into total darkness. We are not alone in the room, or so it seems. A medium walks among us. He whispers in our ears. He invites the spirits in.
Neath and Rosenberg have experimented with binaural storytelling before, in previous shows Ring and Fiction. The technology is familiar now, so there’s more room to play with its possibilities.
While those earlier pieces, which also took place in darkness, were disconcerting and unsettling, Seance is more primal. It’s like a ghost train that takes place inside your own brain. It delivers the requisite jolts, while also – gently – exploring the mechanisms and contagious nature of fear, and the potency of superstition. Because of the short running time, however, they’ve ramped up the intensity of the piece to the detriment of narrative development. The story-building is fairly minimal.
This is a ride – and being sold as such – it’s certainly not one for the claustrophobic. But taken on its own terms, it’s skin-tingling, breath-quickening stuff.