British theatre company Darkfield has become known for staging creepy productions in shipping containers, which use 360 degree binaural sound and sensory deprivation to play with your mind and freak you out.
Collaborating with Melbourne’s Realscape Productions, Darkfield has staged two of these immersive theatre experiences in Australia – Séance which recreated the supernatural ritual used to communicate with the dead, and Flight, which simulated a mid-air disaster.
COVID-19 restrictions mean that staging intense, intimate productions of this nature in shipping containers isn’t possible at the moment, so Darkfield has introduced a new digital project called Darkfield Radio, which brings one of their signature audio encounters into your home. The first Darkfield Radio show is called Double.
Double is an immersive audio drama from Darkfield Radio, which you experience in your own home. Photograph © Alex Purcell
I didn’t go to Séance – which was performed in complete darkness – after hearing about some people who had been so scared they had fought to get out. As someone who avoids horror films like the plague, it sounded far too claustrophobic and terrifying. But here we are, living through a pandemic which has closed down theatres, so I thought I’d give Double a go – it’s staged in your own home after all, so it can’t be that scary, right? Wrong!
Presented by Darkfield and Realscape Productions, Double comes to you via your mobile device. All you need is a smartphone, headphones and a friend willing to come on the journey with you.
Once you buy a ticket (costing $10), you are given instructions on how to download an app (which is quickly and easily done). As the time of your performance approaches, you enter a code, don the headphones and are asked to go to your kitchen table (if you have one) and sit opposite your partner with a glass of water in front of you. The experience unfolds from there.
It’s best to avoid spoilers so you don’t know what you’re in for. Suffice to say, Double explores the Capgras delusion, a condition where someone believes that a loved one was been replaced by a malign doppleganger.
Double runs a tight, spine-tingling 20 minutes. While the narrative doesn’t completely suck you in, the 3-D sonic effects are extraordinary. In fact, they sound so real that it’s hard to believe there isn’t someone in your kitchen, brushing past you and whispering into your ear, while the sound of a crackly radio, boiling kettle, buzzing flies and shattering glass make you feel ever more on edge until your home feels like a haunted space. It’s a struggle to keep your eyes closed as instructed – though that will depend on how well you handle being freaked out. I admit I breathed a sigh of relief when it was all over, and spent the next few moments looking around to check there wasn’t anyone else there.
Double runs on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The season has now been extended to September 30. Double has also been selected as part of the official program at the Venice Film Festival, September 2 – 12, where it will feature as part of the XR category.