Adelaide Fringe Review: COMA

Where: Garden of Unearthly Delights
When: 14 February – 15 March
Tickets: here

Welcome to COMA, the third shipping container from Darkfield, the folks that brought us SÉANCE and FLIGHT. This time round we are loading ourselves into tiny bunks and letting a dream wash over us. COMA is a very different experience.

Pegged as a ‘collective dream’, the lights go out and it begins. It is completely dark inside the container, a complete sensory deprivation, except for the voices of course. The male voice urges us to take a pill kept on a shelf in our bunks. You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but you’ve agreed as a community to do it, the voice says. I don’t know about this. It feels backhanded to simultaneously pressure someone and reassure them it’s okay if they don’t. I take the pill anyway, figuring I want the placebo at least. I assume it’s empty, but my friend tells me they crunched it and there was some sort of powder inside. Coma powder??

You should know if you don’t already that Darkfield are masters at sound design. The voices sound as if they are echoing throughout the container or whispering into my ear. Every bang shakes my bunk. It’s very convincing. At one point I hear the blind shut around my bunk, and I reach out my hand to check if it really has. There are moments where the male voice describes smells but I don’t smell them. I spend the experience thinking it’s a missed opportunity, but my friend tells me he thinks he may have smelled the described smells. Either way, it could be stronger.

COMA is engaging. The experience is strongest at the end, when the story shifts from the (honestly kind of weird) collective dream into a more realistic coma hospital experience. Either way, it’s a fun and creepy way to spend half an hour.

3 out of 5 stars

Natalie Carfora

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