Review: COMA

An immersive experience that takes audiences to another realm

theatre review (adelaide) | Read in About 2 minutes
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Photo by Mihaela Bodlovic
Published 23 Feb 2020

Darkfield have developed a number of immersive theatrical experiences in shipping containers, and COMA is the most enjoyable so far.

Where Seance tried to trick audiences and Flight relied on confusion, COMA works with the power of suggestion. As a result, it’s the most effective of the trio.

The shipping container is lined with rows of bunks, each with a set of headphones on the pillow. This 'seating' format intentionally isolates every member of the audience, dispatching each individual to a solipsistic void once the lights go down. Alone and entirely free of distractions, we have no choice but to invest in the performance.

Binaural technology allows for an aural experience much richer than stereo, and sounds seem to come from every direction. As some senses are stimulated and others deprived, those things that the audience can perceive are magnified. A disembodied voice invites us to relax. Next, it asks us to trust it. This stranger simultaneously soothes and questions the nature of this new reality, lulling us into a dreamlike state. And because we’re asked, rather than forced, to embark on this journey, it’s easy to follow the hypnotic voice to another realm.

Time stops in a vacuum, and stretches out disconcertingly when you’re completely dark and alone. Though this performance lasts just twenty minutes, it feels like it’s far longer and COMA’s ability to take audiences on a journey without the use of their eyes is quite an achievement.