The work comes to us from the creators of the popular Seance, which has toured Melbourne in two sell-out seasons and eerily immersed participants in a communion with the spirit world using binaural sound technology.
Flight utilises the same tech to different effect. The shipping container this time is meticulously decked out as the interior of an airplane, complete with seats and overhead lockers. There are even embedded video monitors, offering safety information and a short, disjointed intro from a flight attendant.
After you’ve buckled yourself in and donned special headphones, though, most of the experience happens in the dark. I don’t want to give too much away, but the soundtrack mixes in every kind of flight noise – from the revving up of engines and the whine of propellers to a chorus of babies crying in the cabin – to give a weird simulacrum of being airborne.
It’s a short, sharp experience guaranteed to disrupt your reality for a while. And it comes across less as a surreal nightmare of a flight gone wrong than as something stranger still – it’s like stepping into the anxious daydream of some fretful flyer about to take off.
Newcomers to binaural tech will be particularly spooked by directionality of the sound effects. They create a sense of space and can give the illusion of action happening all around you in the dark, in a way that makes the hair on your neck stand up.
And subwoofers and mechanical trickery give a tactile layer to the hair-raising trip Flight offers. Whether the piece is substantial enough is an open question – it’s more like a ghost train or a funfair ride than a theatrical experience proper – but like its predecessor, it will attract crowds curious to try something novel and strange, and in that it doesn’t disappoint.