FRINGE WORLD FESTIVAL 2020
FRINGE CENTRAL, THROUGH TO 16 FEBRUARY
Flight, by Darkfield (in association with Realscape Productions), is definitely one of the coolest, most unnerving and unique experiences to be had at this year’s Fringe Festival. It works hard to surround itself in an air of mystery and intrigue, with its event page explaining very little and the on-site staff remaining distant and aloof beyond presenting you with a single aeroplane seat ticket. However, I do feel the need to state that this is a horror experience. It markets itself as ‘multi-sensory’ and psychologically thrilling but in essence, you will be scared and you will feel unnerved. That said, this is an experience best undertaken blind, so if you’re sensitive to spoilers I would suggest bookmarking this review, buying a ticket, and trying it for yourself first.
Flight sits you in a shipping container modelled into a commercial aeroplane cabin with 30 or so other people. Seats are distributed randomly, so you won’t be sitting with whoever you came with. Once you’re settled in with your seatbelt in place and headphones on, they turn off the lights. Completely. Not the kind of pseudo-darkness you have at home where flecks of street-lights emanate through the curtains and lights from various tech blinks comfortingly — the pitch-black darkness that prevents you seeing your own hand in front of your face for an entire half hour. Because of this, most of the performance relies entirely upon well-crafted binaural audio, which is the closest we have to true 3D sound, where one can ‘tell’ where a sound is in the room through the use of headphones at each seat. When the plane takes off, you can truly feel it moving, aided by small movements in the seats.
Of course, being horror, things soon take a nosedive. Unnerving conversations, whispering, babies crying and all the usual horror stuff, as well as a few other fresh offerings that I really can’t bring myself to spoil. The plot is solid for what it is, with enough to keep a conversation going afterward. There are jump scares, though they didn’t always feel entirely necessary, but the core narrative was presented in a very unique and intriguing way that’s hard to truly relate. My only criticism would be the handling of the audio mixing: at times, the sound effects felt too loud and the voices too quiet — if you’re sensitive to loud noises, keep this in mind. But overall, Flight is an otherworldly experience that will undoubtedly be like nothing you’ve experienced before, and if you like a bit of intrigue with your psychological horror, this is definitely the experience for you.