The audience were left in the dark in this first of four performance-based pieces that make up the bulk of Fuelfest, the week-long residency at Tramway by former Bank of Scotland Herald Angel winners Fuel.
Yet director David Rosenberg's immersive experience is delivered with such intensity that his production is as enlightening on the possibilities of sound as it is on group dynamics and mass manipulation.
Once we're ushered into a room with two banks of chairs facing each other with a harshly lit gulf between, we're lulled into a false sense of security by a man who calls himself Michael, but admits it's not his real name. We've already been given headphones and had our names noted down, and now Michael talks us through proceedings as if we're regular attendees of some unnamed group therapy session.
Loading article content
As we're plunged into blackness, any hinted-at meditations plumb darker imaginings, so the voices in our head bicker, confess or else whisper in our ears like intimate strangers. There are sounds of what might be crockery smashing, of crying and of possible violence. Is it a cult we're part of, and if so, why is everyone singing to the Spartacus-like Francis (or is it Frances?) that might just be you?
Rosenberg's adventure in binaural recording – a form of personal sensurround that wraps the sound around the listener – allows Glen Neath's script to be as hokey as a Hammer-era portmanteau horror flick. Married to Ben and Max Ringham's sound design, it creates something akin to an experimental radio play where the listener becomes participant in a spine-chilling 45 minutes in which our own imaginations get both the better and the worse of us.