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Theatre review: Darkfield Radio — Double

REVIEW

Darkfield Radio: Double

darkfield.org ★★★★☆

SOMEONE is rifling through a drawer in your kitchen. A glass smashes onto the floor. Somewhere a fly is buzzing and a radio playing. There’s a sound to your right: someone is walking close behind you, bending down, whispering inside your ear…

Audio technology has proven a particularly transporting theatrical format during lockdown, preying on the imagination in ways dear old Zoom simply cannot match. This latest immersive piece from Darkfield, an experiential theatre company cofounded by Shunt’s David Rosenberg, requires you and a partner to don headphones and sit opposite each other for 20 minutes at the kitchen table, in a set-up that’s initially a mite too close for comfort to the enforced proximity of lockdown itself. But soon a voice in your ear plunges you into your very own pulp fiction B movie involving replica bodies and murderous delusions, while around you, your kitchen – so achingly well known to you – becomes an eerily defamiliarised place.

Double is stronger on sensory experience than on story, which the company says explores the ‘Capgras delusion’ – a psychiatric disorder in which the sufferer is convinced that a loved one has been replaced by an exact replica with malign intentions.

But I found myself more unsettled by the conviction a stranger was moving around my kitchen table than by the bonkers, sci-fi style paranoia of the plot. That disorientation, as Rosenberg’s binaural sound design manipulates you into believing in an entirely fabricated sensory reality, is almost physically invasive, making you queasily aware of your skin and the space your body takes up. But perhaps this is where the real story is meant to take place all along. It’s not the fear that something has happened to your partner that grips you so much as the fear that something is about to happen to you.

Until Aug 1