“Schrödinger’s Paradox dictates that a cat inside a sealed box is both alive and dead simultaneously. Imagine this from the cat’s perspective.”
Flight, Summerhall (Venue 26) ****
The above quote from Darkfield’s latest production could very well be the key to unlocking the whole experience, though this is only a rough paraphrase – it’s hard to make accurate notes when you are immersed in pitch blackness. For 20 fear-inducing minutes, in a shipping container outside Summerhall, that’s precisely what happens: audience members enter to find a faithfully recreated airplane interior (almost certainly salvaged from the real thing), where they fasten their seatbelts and don headphones before being plunged into darkness, and taken on a journey they will either survive or not. (Or both.)
With the lights out, sound becomes a focal point, whether that be the increasingly bizarre banalities spewing from the cabin crew, the discontented chattering of fellow passengers or the godlike omnipotence of the captain’s announcements.
It’s tightly wound and tense – not a full-on horror experience (there are no jump scares or bloody gore effects here), but absolutely unsettling. The sound and production design are both excellent – in addition to the authentic interior, boarding passes and Kafkaesque safety cards are distributed, all of which enhance the creeping unease. Indeed, if there was one slight improvement to be made, it’d be to extend that off-kilter vibe beyond the container: there’s no major reason the obligatory pre-show safety brief couldn’t be delivered by an in-uniform air steward or border guard (perhaps even sealing people’s prohibited phones in tamper-proof security bags), other than the bottom-line impact – with 12 shows a day for 26 days, Darkfield will be looking to keep turnover as tight as possible.