Container company Darkfield’s new app-based work immerses audience in a true theatrical experience once more
In a household kitchen, two people who know one another intimately – partners, relations, friends or other – sit at the table, as an echoing clock ticks in the background. But one believes the other has been replaced by an exact duplicate and their beloved will only return when this imposter has been murdered – a condition known as the Capgras delusion.
Meanwhile, in another kitchen, closer to the real world, a pair of ‘audience’ members sit opposite one another, set a synchronised app on their phones and slip on individual headphones. We close our eyes and what we hear takes us on a discomforting journey inside the mind of the sufferer from the first scenario.
Apparently in development since before lockdown, Darkfield Radio (the app-based wing of English company Darkfield, which has internationally toured container-based shows Séance, Flight and Coma) has come to early maturity as a vividly unsettling iteration of what the theatrical experience might mutate into during the lockdown era.
At 20-minutes long, Double feels like something of a vignette, although it is promised to be the first episode in a series of app works from creators David Rosenberg and Glen Neath. In many ways it is an exercise in sound design – with tense verbal interjections from performer Christopher Brett Bailey – as the creak of a hinge or the scuff of a foot echoes horrifyingly amid the 360-degree sound mix.
Yet what resonates most profoundly is how much the Darkfield Radio experiment allows something vaguely approaching a traditional performance space to be built, if only in the imagination. The audience-participants take a seat for a shared experience at a prescribed time, and what has been created fills their senses and the room around them, rather than just a screen. For a brief time it is like being back in a theatre.