Browse reviews

Edinburgh Fringe 2023



Genre: Immersive, Site-Specific

Venue: Summerhall:


Low Down

You enter a container and are instructed to lie down on one of the metal bunks. By your head there is a tablet; below you a sterile mattress. For the next 20/25 minutes or so, you are in darkness, with headphones on. Through those headphones a comforting voice begins talking to us, we then get the discordant feeling of people being in the room. We get smells that go along with the narrative before we end with things buzzing in our headphones and buzzing in our head.


Darkfield have become a regular fixture with their shipping container outside Summerhall offering unusual binaural experiences. Coma follows Séance and Flight, and is a second visit, having been first presented it in 2019.

It’s a very different experience from most Fringe shows, and definitely not one to try if confined spaces or darkness are uncomfortable for you.

As we wait, we get a briefing preparing us for what to expect – that the container is lined with bunks, that it will be completely dark and we will be wearing headphones.

We are all slightly nervous which creates a brief bond between us as we share nervous glances. On entering we are invited to choose a bunk, lie down and put on the headphones. There are only a few minutes to take in the surroundings before the promised darkness arrives. I found myself wishing I had taken more in, trying to picture where I was in the dark.

My first thought is how rare it is to experience total darkness, so often what we think of as dark is actually only a shade of it, not complete. It feels surprisingly heavy.

The audio is technically perfect, although personally I found the initial voice too loud. There is the option to remove the headphones if the experience is overwhelming, it will still be audible but offers a slight reality check if needed.

The aim of the script is unclear and, for me, lacked narrative. However, the background of footsteps, hushed voices, a fragment of a question, a reply is very powerful and created a real sense of being in a place that I had no control over. We believe there are people moving around with us, talking to us.

In addition to the soundscape there is movement (or at least the sense of it) and smells – walking past the container later that day I caught a whiff of the scent and it took me back to the experience in an instant.

Perhaps most surprising was how quickly the half hour passed. As long as you are comfortable with confined spaces and darkness this will be one of your most memorable Fringe experiences.