I missed this play first time round as it very quickly sold out. I was therefore determined to catch it during the current run. It was predictably wonderful.

The play, by Hattie Naylor in collaboration with Sound&Fury, is solo performed by John Mackay as Max, an astronomer who develops Retinitis Pigmentosa, which initially affects peripheral vision and eventually leads to blindness.

We are led into the auditorium in almost complete darkness, and the opening minutes of the play take place in pitch blackness. It was an extraordinary experience, and I have no idea how it was achieved. The darkness, the ‘non-seeing’ felt so absolute that whether you shut your eyes or kept them open, the experience was the same. I initially found this scary, even a little panicky, and almost claustrophic (it was a very packed auditorium), but when we were again immersed in complete darkness later in the play, it felt much less threatening

Perhaps at that point we had, at least to some extent, empathically entered Max’s increasingly dark world. As an astronomer, his life had centred around big cosmic questions, and the play contains many interesting thoughts on what considerations of the night sky might reveal about our place in the universe.
Sound&Fury’s first show, War Music, was staged in total darkness. The company’s work primarily focuses on the effects of sense deprivation. Thus, by immersing us, the audience, in this instance into blackness, the possibility of ‘seeing’ in a different way is created.
The two main questions at the core of Going Dark are ‘how did we get here?’ and ‘what in fact is our reality, our notion of existing?’

Big, and unanswerable, questions, and Going Dark does not attempt to provide the answers. However, the play, and Sound&Fury in general, powerfully challenge us to consider these imponderables with innovative, unique and exhilarating theatre.

CQ

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