Sound&Fury’s new production is remarkable collaboration. Working with Hattie Taylor, the theatre company takes you on a journey from the inner turmoil of a man struggling to come to terms with visual impairment, to the outer dark of the night sky and the very birth of our universe.
Going Dark is a charming and ingenious work, toying with the format of a planetarium to tell the story of an astronomer and single parent who is losing his sight. Hattie Naylor’s text intersperses planetarium presentations with scenes between our protagonist and son. A one-man-show, John Mackay cuts a lonely figure on stage. His dialogue with his son, who is only present as a disembodied voice, is hauntingly effective. We quickly become immersed in an endearing yet tragic tale of a father’s paternal anxiety – refracted through a shared obsession with the wonder and awe of the universe.
Given Sound&Fury’s reputation for exploring sense deprivation, we were expecting Going Dark to experiment in form with the ideas of visual impairment and the hallucinatory symptoms of Charles Bonnet Syndrome – providing a more dense sensory experience. Despite what Michael Billington wrote in this week’s Guardian; the audience did not “sit in almost total darkness for 75 minutes”.
Instead, we watched a brilliantly executed and disarming theatrical tale depicting the frailty and impermanence of our lives. Dan Jones’s immersive soundscapes were pitched perfectly and complemented by witty lighting and staging re-awakened our wonder of the cosmos, whilst grounding the emotional pulse of the work in John Mackay’s wonderfully understated performance.
Going Dark plays at the Young Vic, 66 The Cut, Waterloo, London, SE1 until 24 March. Tickets cost £15. Visit www.youngvic.org/whats-on/going-dark to find out more. Londonist saw Going Dark on a press ticket courtesy of the Young Vic press office.
By Jonathan May.