Culture critic Holly enjoys a new twist on a festive classic at the RSC.Written by Holly Reaney on 17th December 2017
Review: ‘Séance’ at the Birmingham REP
The days are growing darker and things are growing spookier, as Hannah Brierley experiences the spine-tingling 'Séance' at the Birmingham REP
“... spine-tingling, shiver-inducing, hair-stand-on-end stuff...
Séance is an unnerving experience. It’s spine-tingling, shiver-inducing, hair-stand-on-end stuff. It’s a piece created by David Rosenburg and Glen Neath whose previous works, Ring and Fiction have been described as ‘immense’ ‘dream-like’ and ‘disorientating’. These are words I find totally applicable after experiencing their latest production.
I had no idea at all what to expect from this piece which made me both anxious and excited like a little girl watching a horror film at a sleepover for the first time. I arrived at the REP theatre only to be lead outside, with the other members of the audience, and into a shipping container positioned out front. In this container were two rows of chairs facing each other which were for us to sit on. We were instructed to put our headphones on, as this was a piece that would focus on sound as the leading sense. In the middle was a long, thin table, above it hung a bell. A very ominous setting. But how could it be made scarier? By turning the lights off, we were suddenly plunged into darkness. I thought I’d given up my fear of the dark long ago, but there’s nothing quite as unsettling as being cloaked in total pitch black.
“That comforting voice at the back of your head telling you it’s not real, begins to be questioned. It’s that immersive.
The noises that came through the headphones were classic creepy horror sounds, like creaking, breathing and footsteps. We were joined by a male voice who explained we were about to take part in a séance. I began to forget I had headphones on and imagined this figure in the room with us. To detail the fifteen minutes’ step by step would ruin the suspense that is so integral to this piece. All I will say is this; your mind is completely open to manipulation and no matter how many times you tell yourself everyone in the room is hearing the same thing as you, the whispers and accusations feel personal. That comforting voice at the back of your head telling you it’s not real, begins to be questioned. It’s that immersive. The power of darkness is really quite impressive. You rely totally on the sounds you’re given to create this world around you and when those noises and voices are telling you you’re at a demonic séance it can be utterly terrifying. Honestly, I don’t think I could have lasted longer than fifteen minutes!
Séance is the ideal Halloween trip if you fancy a change from the usual predictable horror films. Perhaps pair it with a trip to the REP’s production of ‘The Exorcist’ for a truly frightful evening out. Don’t say I didn’t warn you though.
For more details about 'Séance', follow this link: https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/sance.html
And for information about 'The Exorcist', follow this link: https://www.birmingham-rep.co.uk/whats-on/the-exorcist.html