Phobia (noun): An extreme or irrational fear of something. Aerophobia (noun): Fear of air travel. A condition which may increase significantly after attending ‘Flight’.
Making its Australian premiere at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe ‘Flight’ takes audiences on an unsettling journey into a world where anything can, will or possibly has already happened. Designed to play upon your fears and challenge your grasp on reality, this 30 minute immersive experience takes place inside a 40ft shipping container which has been fitted out with authentic airplane seats (salvaged from an actual airplane graveyard). And if the realistically claustrophobic setting isn’t enough to unnerve you the entire show plays out in almost complete darkness.
I was lucky enough to attend the show's maiden voyage (15 February) and having never actually flown before I had no idea what to expect. The experience began innocently enough; we traded our tickets for boarding passes and took our seats as a virtual stewardess delivered the traditional in-flight safety messages. Within moments of putting on my noise-cancelling headphones, strange things began to happen and the plane was plunged into an impenetrable darkness designed to foster feelings of anxiety and fear.
‘Flight’ utilises binaural sound technology to create a 3D listening experience which (when combined with the overwhelming darkness inside the container) distorts your perception of space and reality. Without vision to guide you your other senses become heightened, and as the experience continues, it is easy to become disorientated by the strange, often eerie sounds happening all around you. Did that voice come from behind you or in front of you? Did someone just whisper in your ear? Did you really feel the brush of an arm on your own or are you just imagining it all?
There is something deeply unsettling about sitting in total darkness and even though the rational part of my brain knew I was safe, my imagination (or should I say paranoia?) went into overdrive – fuelled by the increasingly disturbing compilation of sounds happening within the container.
Presented by Realscape Productions in association with DARKFIELD (the creative minds behind the terrifying 2018 Fringe hit 'Séance’) ‘Flight’ is the type of show which is almost impossible to describe without giving anything away and the cryptic blurb in the Fringe guide does little to shed light on what audiences can expect.
Although a quick glimpse at the accompanying picture – which features a passenger bleeding from his ears while staring up at dangling oxygen masks – should give you some idea of what you are in for.
Imaginative and brilliantly delivered, ‘Flight’ is an unnerving psychological experience which twists your perception of reality, inciting and preying upon your fears until its final moments.