Darkfield: Immersive Theatre Brings Millennial Ghost Train Vibe To King’s Cross

Darkfield X, Lewis Cubitt Square ★★★★☆

By Mike C Last edited 8 months ago

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Darkfield: Immersive Theatre Brings Millennial Ghost Train Vibe To King’s Cross Darkfield X, Lewis Cubitt Square 4
Photo: Sean Pollock Photography

If you’re claustrophobic, suggestible or can’t keep still for five minutes, Darkfield may not be for you. The premise is simple — be shut inside a shipping container in King's Cross for 20 minutes at a time, with a dozen or so other slightly apprehensive souls, and experience sensory deprivation, aural over-stimulation, and a strong sense of unease.

There are three immersive pieces to choose from: Séance, Flight, and Coma, and they can be taken in any order, or enjoyed on their own. It’s worth considering doing all three, as the 20-minute running time of each ‘show’ is just enough to sink into the experience, suspending disbelief and absorbing a changed reality.

Photo: Sean Pollock Photography

And very good it is too, showing what can be achieved with simple settings and some expert sound effects and dialogue, when all external stimulation is absent. This is horror for those who like suggestion, nuance and concealment — so if being drenched in gore is more your thing, try the London Dungeon instead.

That said, one of the three does seem to involve a light dusting with what may have been coffee powder, accompanied by a strong scent. By chance, the order I’d selected worked well. Séance is the most obvious experience, ticking the boxes for tinkling bells, heartbeats thudding and disembodied spirit voices. It may sometimes descend to cliché, but the audience grips the table throughout, never entirely sure that something isn't going to come at them, like an old school fairground ride. It’s a good starting point, bringing unease and anticipation in about equal amounts.

Photo: Sean Pollock Photography

Flight does what it says on the tin, and will make you reconsider those holiday travel plans if nothing else. And both build nicely to the most genuinely disturbing, the near-death experience of Coma, which has the audience in pod-style bunks, prone and vulnerable, and spritzed with coffee.

Escaping to the light seems a relief after it finishes, even if it’s a cold grey winter afternoon. The mind can only cope with a certain quantity of unsettling stimulants in one go.

Darkfield, Lewis Cubitt Square, King’s Cross, N1C 4BT. Tickets £6.75-£9 per show, until 22 March 2020.

Last Updated 02 March 2020