Sensory deprivation, in particular that of sight, results in acuity of sound in the four-part immersive experience that is Darkfield.
The venue is four purpose-fitted white shipping containers at 138 Little Bourke Street – a vacant lot transformed – each with the name of the show on the outside.
I speak of Séance and Flight, both of which were first introduced to Melbourne audiences before the pandemic, and newbies Coma and Eulogy.
Each of the four experiences lasts between 20 minutes and 35 minutes.
You receive your “riding instructions” outside the shipping containers and, soon thereafter, once inside, the lights are turned off and all is jet black.
Headphones relay respective story arcs through vocalisation and sound effects. Movement is also part of the broader offering. It is all about perception.
Photos by Michael Bodlovic and Susanne Dietz
Two rows of plush theatre seats (up to 32 people can be accommodated) line the Séance container, with a long, thin table in between.
We are instructed to place our hands on the table and not remove them.
A narrator begins to question whether we are true believers?
Thirty-three seats from a Boeing 737 are the hallmarks of the Flight container.
Before the lights are dimmed, a “hostie” bids us a warm welcome via a small video screen.
The flight is not without incident.
Twenty-eight comfortable bunk beds have been fitted into the Coma repository.
We lie down, are encouraged to take a harmless pill (optional) to relax and our “treatment” begins.
Just whose eulogy are we privy to in the last of the shipping containers, which is fitted with voice recognition software and can “house” 25 people?
We are assigned to open “cages” and aided by a chaperone (in our ears) … and soon enough we find out.
Suffice to say the elevator only goes one way … and that is down.
The brainchild of Glen Neath and David Rosenberg – who have been collaborating on various ventures since 2012 – Darkfield is a decidedly different experience.
Transported to foreign environments and never knowing what you will hear or feel next, you can take from it what you wish. That is, interpret it as you will.
The element of a surprise is a decided winner, but don’t worry, no one is about to lay a hand on you, rather much of it is in the head.
It is simply a question of how one’s mind will process the sounds, narrative and conversations (collectively some are loud, others moderate and still others whispered) that are integral to the offering.
It is definitely worth giving Darkfield – which is on in Melbourne until 31st July – 2022, a go.
For bookings, head to darkfield.com.au