When I entered the Battersea Arts Theatre I knew very little about what I was letting myself into. It was like a big secret that David Rosenberg, the play's creator and director, would slowly leak to the public as they were invited into this bizarre and imaginative production. I knew only one thing for certain; complete darkness was to overcome the audience for 50 minutes...
Try closing your eyes for a minute...
Now open them and imagine they are still closed.
Now imagine this for nearly an hour. It can make you visualise things you never thought you would.
Walking through to the Council Chamber at the BAC felt like being part in one of Derren Brown's experiments. With a set of headphones as my only companion the entire audience were told we weren't allowed to sit next to anyone we knew. Automatically my stomach flipped, I wanted the security blanket of being able to grab my friend's hand, but no, it had been thrust upon all of us that this would be a lonely and solitary experience from the start.
Without releasing spoilers I can only give you a slight insight into this deeply personal show. After a practice of sitting in the pitch black for roughly 20 seconds my immediate thought was to run out of the auditorium, being terrified of the dark made me probably not the best audience member for this show. We were then offered the opportunity to leave if we wanted, and it felt like a trick question. We were told: "If you feel uncomfortable at any moment raise your hand and say help." By now my heart was thumping at an accelerated pace. And then there was darkness. Complete darkness.
I won't cheat you by telling you any of the story; everyone simply needs to go and see this and gain their own journey through the sounds. All I can describe to you is how I was affected myself. I think everyone must have been completely transported, as if you are the main character. You are not just another audience member, you are as much a part of the show as the actors themselves. The sound journey created by Ben and Max Ringham takes you to places that only you will understand.
Glen Neath wrote: "We have all come here to be transported. That is the purpose of the group. To imagine something together, something better. And we have chosen to do it in the dark."
I found myself being connected to everything that was said, images were flooding through my mind even from simple words mentioned. Suddenly with my visual sensor taken away from me, I was able use my other senses much more dominantly. My hearing had been sharpened; leaving the theatre, my friend and I commented on how much more we could hear, even the quietest of echoes seemed easier to pick up on. A lot of credit must go to Ben and Max Ringham; I cannot begin to imagine how they created the world that we as audience members were thrown into.
Although every member of the audience sat in the same room for an hour, everyone had a completely individual experience. It is as much a show about yourself, and whether you like it or not you will be taken on an unique and seductively nerving journey. This 'must see' show is not one that I will forget any time soon, I do however strongly advise that this show is not for children. Some of the action can be very distressing, but it is well worth taking that frightening risk and plunging into the blackout.
After settling into the 'total darkness' the lights slowly came up...all I wanted was for them to go back down so I could 'discover' more.