Simon McBurney has a lot to answer for. Ever since his smash-hit solo show The Encounter premiered in 2015, theatremakers have been trying to emulate its innovative use of binaural sound being piped into the audience’s ears via headphones. And they rarely get it right.
Hippana Theatre’s new production Shine – part of the From Start to Finnish programme – gives it a good go, but you can too easily see the stitches of the show, and it never really impacts on an emotional level either.
Creators and performers Olivier Leclair and Tiia-Mari Mäkinen give intensely physical performances as a husband and wife whose young daughter disappears one night. Leclair’s husband starts to lose his grip on reality, imagining voices and creatures, and growing suspicious of his wife and her love for him. Neither Leclair nor Mäkinen make a sound throughout – the disjointed, disorienting narrative plays out entirely through a sophisticated soundscape of voices, noises and music.
It’s an ambitious idea but the execution is off. Occasionally there are chilling moments – the use of strobe lighting and masks is effective – but sound and stage action don’t sync up seamlessly and tension dissipates as a result.