When Séance debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2017, some sessions had to be aborted midway so audience members could get out.
The immersive theatre experience combines the concept of a traditional séance with 3D audio technology and sensory deprivation; it blurs the bounds of perception and reality and can therefore be overwhelming– and terrifying – for those who take part. It came to Melbourne in the form of a 40-foot shipping container last year, occupying Federation Square for a few weeks.
"First, you’ll put on headphones," wrote Broadsheet's arts editor, Will Cox, of the experience. "Then the room is plunged into pitch darkness. A voice requests you put your hands on the table.
"Once I was enveloped in perfect darkness... I was never quite sure what was in my headphones and what was in the room. But the one variable the company can’t control is where people’s imaginations take them."
This month the 40-foot shipping container returns to the city, this time at Queen Victoria Market.
Participants will step inside the cramped, claustrophobic space, then settle into one of the old cinema seats with a pair of the aforementioned noise-cancelling headphones, before pitch black sets in.
UK production company Darkfield – which specialises in explorations of fear and anxiety – and its Australian counterparts, Realscape Productions are behind Séance. If you went last year, the 2018 performance is exactly the same. The experience is not recommended for anyone under the age of 15, and is controlled but only up to a point.
Séance is happening at the Queen Victoria Market from July 11 to 28. Buy tickets here.