Theatrical innovators Darkfield are back at Summerhall, inviting Fringe-goers to once more step into absolute darkness for Eulogy, their latest immersive narrative experience conjured up through sound and movement. This year they’ve added some new technological tricks to create a slick, thought-provoking, and often unsettling production.
A slick, thought-provoking, and often unsettling production
In recent years the experience-makers have taken audiences on aural odysseys ranging from the heights of an aeroplane cabin to the internalised depths of a coma, all created within the confines of a shipping container. In this latest production, attendees descend into the bowels of a strange hotel where life is processed and ended, and the quietus is anything but quiet.
For Eulogy, the shipping container is lined with seats cut into the sorts of laundry cage trolleys you might see strung along the deserted corridors of a guest house, each one carrying a different name. This personalisation is realised throughout the experience, with members of the audience taking a seat, slipping on a set of headphones with microphone, and in doing so assuming the name of the cage in which they have sat.
As darkness consumes the space, the “guests” of this hotel are led through the show by the shifting voice of their own chaperone and a string of dreamlike fragments of story played out in words and sound unfolds. It’s an approach which places the audience member at the very heart of the narrative, and it’s not all one way traffic. Darkfield have harnessed voice-recognition technology to allow the story to be shaped by answers to various questions posed in the performance. It’s a neat device, adding another layer of engagement to the experience.
All together, Eulogy is a very well put together production, as you’d expect from a company which has established itself as the world’s premium purveyors of immersive, shipping container-based, binaural theatre. The three-dimensionally rendered soundscapes are effective in drawing in the audience, the changes in pace are well judged, the modest 30 minutes-ish runtime guarantees that the novelty never wears off, and if the narrative ending is slightly less impactful than perhaps it could have been, the ability to feed back into the story and shape the outcome is an intriguing addition which suggests a bright future for this pitch-black theatrical experience.