You’re sitting on a chair in total darkness. A voice pipes up in front of you and it’s the man who led you into the room – he gently tells you that there are two rules: you must remain seated, and you must not remove your blindfold. You nod. Then a story begins with you at the centre, from a chorus of voices speaking from different directions, and you’re dropped headfirst into an audio-described dreamscape which thrives off your own input and imagination.
It starts with you running up a flight of stairs, through a door out onto a rooftop. “What do you see?” a woman asks. A narrative emerges from the emptiness, that invites you to make choices and shape your experience within your own malleable universe. For the first time you speak, into the void – and answer that you can see some hills (how creative, you think. Idiot.) “What do you want to do now?” You pause for a few seconds, and suggest paragliding.
The voices are joined by sounds and physical sensations; the wind whips through your face as you glide above the alpine landscape with its crumbling houses (they’ve painted in the details you skipped), and water swooshes around when you plunge into the stormy sea for a scuba dive. Then some tinny strumming starts and you jolt out of the matrix to think did they really have to ruin it with a fucking ukulele?
At times you feel guarded. Later, when you land amongst the ruins of a Roman amphitheatre and you’re asked, “who’s standing in front of you?” you worry that you might let slip some deep-rooted Freudian anxiety, of the “it’s my mother, she’s naked, and she wants to pull out all my teeth” kind. But the open narrative structure feels welcoming and you soon relax, as the trio of voices – you’ve worked out that there’s three of them now – are happy to run with any idea you throw in, spinning the most meagre scraps into something vividly poetic and immersive.
Afterwards, when you’re pacing up the cobblestoned streets of Edinburgh back towards the city-centre throng, you have time to reflect. And you think, wasn’t that a wonderful demonstration of the collaborative act of theatre? Of the joint effort between creator and audience, who need only each other and an empty space to create and share a thing between them, and that thing is happening in that room, but also more importantly inside their heads? It’s hardly aggressively boundary-pushing in form, and unashamedly just lovely, but for its sheer simplicity and generosity, you’re glad you jumped on for the ride.