BWW Review: DARKFIELD, Lewis Cubitt Square
Vivid imaginations, beware! Immersive company Darkfield have taken over Lewis Cubitt Square in King's Cross with a collection of torment-inducing shows. After taking theatre festivals around the UK by storm with Séance and Flight, they are bringing their disturbing creations back to London along with their brand spanking new and equally affecting Coma.
In three completely dark containers, the team transport their audiences to their most obscure recesses of the mind through auditory illusion. The binaural technology side of the project works exceptionally well, and the absence of light heightens the misperception of what's real and what's not. The fewer details are known of the productions, the better they work, so we'll focus on feelings rather than plots and effects here.
Séance is by far the more disquieting. They take the spook factor to the extreme with its sensory elements: the lack of spatial awareness and the terrifying escalation of events that are unfolding into your ears are enough to blur the lines between this world and Darkfield's. They transform another 40ft container in a doomed economy cabin for Flight. The interiors are spot on, and the feeling and vibrations of the plane are only missing that slight change in pressure you can feel up in the air to be exact.
Once again, they manage to tie you to your seat with astounding craft. Even though when we reviewed this one the lights didn't go off correctly, it was still portentous and it's not difficult to imagine how overwhelming it would be if everything had worked. Coma is a claustrophobic nightmare. They explore the murkiest alcoves of the mind through a sensory journey sans eyesight in a medical expedition.
Each piece is astonishing in its own right, but seeing all of them one after the other is a profoundly discombobulating experience. The minutiae and care employed by founders David Rosenberg and Glen Neath is thoroughly fascinating: they toy with the power of suggestion and deliver a transformative adventure.
They keep it short and sweet - or rather, short and scary - with the three running below 30 minutes each (probably not to scar their public too much and avoid being invoiced for any therapeutic care). Every act will work differently on each participant, appealing to different areas of the subconscious depending on one's fears.
It's definitely not the most ideal production for the faint of heart, and those with an anxious disposition should doubtlessly bypass it mainly due to the impossibility to leave once started, but it's an impressive experiment. Sinister, heart-racing, and utterly arresting, Darkfield's offerings are nightmares manifested into reality.