You have to feel for the team behind Wyrd, the immersive-meets-interactive-meets-seance play currently playing at the atmospheric C Nova. Fringe audiences, ostensibly lovers of the experimental, aren't always the most cooperative: on the night that we were shuffled into a darkened chamber to discover the truth about the mysterious death of twenty-something newlywed Joseph's grandparents, the team had to do a fair bit of work to keep everybody quiet and orderly. Never breaking character, they skillfully ushered all twenty of us into the room, using the structure of the seance as a straightforward way to let us know what was expected of us as audience members, before delving into the ghostly history of Old Town Edinburgh and its environs.
Perhaps less interactive than it purports to be, Wyrd is nevertheless at its best when it requires the audience to participate in the seance through breathing rhythmically, holding a sheet, or otherwise being present in their belief: an effective metaphor that links theatrical performance and religious ritual. So too does it really hit its stride when Joe's wife, Fi and best friend Ethan become possessed by the spirits of Joe's grandmother and her lover, as present and past converge in twinned tales of jealousy and revenge.
Unfortunately such plot comes relatively late in the game: the first forty minutes or so of Wyrd, as we are introduced to the ‘rules’ of seance, feel like ploddingly-paced build-up at best, padding at worst: effectively creepy but less substantial or engaging than the story that finally follows. A shorter time-slot might have been more effective; as it stands, Wyrd feels a little too long for the short, sharp story it has to tell. Nevertheless, the show is pleasingly atmospheric, and the story is well-told; Wyrd is more than worth a visit.