Disclaimer: I went into Séance unaware of what I was getting myself into, other than knowing I’d be in the dark, and one time a lady tried to escape before the show was over. The not knowing I think elevated my experience, so, if you’re planning on going, perhaps don’t read any further.
If you’re not going to read my review, my only advice would be to try and get a seat in the middle. If you’re chill with spoilers, read on.
Séance is located near the back of The Garden of Unearthly Delights, right by some carnival rides and the Secret Bar. I’m not actually sure if that’s the official name of this bar, it’s just what my fiancé calls it. This being said, it’s fairly well lit with neon lights so I wouldn’t call it much of a secret. Anyway, I digress. We’re here to talk about Séance.
When I approached the big white shipping container, it actually seemed rather inviting. Or, I suppose, as inviting as a shipping container can be. Inside was a long table with plush red theatre chairs on either side. The room was dimly lit at this point and the theatre chairs were super comfy. If I didn’t know things were about to get a whole lot weirder, I’d consider this prime napping territory.
I brought along my fiancé so he could hold me gently until the whole thing was over, however, after realising there were a few empty seats scattered about, the host had us all move one over so there was no one to the left or right of any participant. I would have to hold myself gently.
I was seated right by the main door at the end of our long table. This is where I offer my main piece of advice, which is to try and get a seat in the middle rather than on the end. I’ll explain why in a moment.
Our host asked us to put on a pair of headphones and this is where it got super cool. Séance is rigged with a 3D sound system that feeds into your headphones and picks up actual audio in the room. This element was so important when the lights went out, as the shipping container offered a true representation of “pitch black”. I felt extremely disoriented having my eyes open while not being able to see. So much so that I closed my eyes initially, as having them closed in darkness was familiar.
It believably sounded as though a man had entered the room. I mean, someone absolutely could have. I’m still unsure if our commentator was actually there or if it was just a trick of the sound system. He asked us to put our hands on the table and this is where Séance began.
From here there were a few clever tricks that I really admired from this show. There was walking on the table (well, atleast I thought there was) and there were mega creepy whispers, partnered by a waft of air to create the feeling that someone was actually speaking in your ear. Overall, the 3D sound system and subtly added motions helped solidify the believability that these things were happening.
My biggest criticism comes from my experience sitting on the end. Because we could all hear each other speaking, there were a few times the commentator would ask one of us a question and I was unable to tell if it was actually a participant or a pre-recording, until he asked someone a question who sounded like they were direct to my right. I knew no one was there, so it broke the illusion and I was taken out of the experience a little bit.
I also wish there was a stronger narrative throughout. However, I do personally have a preference for story building in interactive shows such as this. So this is a very biased criticism.
This being said, it is a really clever show that I would recommend checking out. The fact alone that they can travel with, and set up such an intricate yet simplistic stage, is enough to tip your hat at. So immerse yourself in the mind fuck that is Séance and admire all the technical details that make it so special.
Oh, and if you wear anything that glows in the dark, they will remove it from you. Shoes, watches and all. So don’t be that person!
Where: The Garden of Unearthly Delights
When: 16th Feb - 19th March (various times)
Duration: 15 - 20min
Tickets: From $20 here
Star rating: 3 spooky stars out of 5.
Header image via Adelaide Fringe