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This review was originally written for The Public Reviews.

http://www.thepublicreviews.com/ring-battersea-arts-centre-london/

Headphones on, lights off, and fifty minutes in complete darkness may not sound like much of a fun thing, but it does develop some interesting ideas as to what pure sound is capable of. After a detailed set of instructions and a sly pre-show set up of name taking and ping pong ball dropping, the audience is immersed in a group therapy session hosted by Michael, walking around with a cane. The session soon gets fractious, with frivolous accusations thrown around.

It is a great use of 3D sound and the clarity of it makes it that much more immersive and believable. There is a moment where it sounds like four people are closing in on you which induces a genuine sense of dread. Another, more relaxing moment is the sound of the seaside and seagulls with the darkness helping to better visualise the scene. There is also an existentialist point, which raises the interesting question of how one gets an alibi in complete darkness. So there are some good and thoughtful ideas.

However, the problem is they are all individual ideas surrounding the use of soundscape in complete darkness and are only vaguely joined together in the form of a group discussion session. The tenuous link between each scene dressed up as a dream sequence makes the whole show disjointed. Though it does encourage the imagination of the audience, the immersive nature of it is broken by the fractious nature of the story. And despite the technology and the effort to create a coherent narrative, it never rises above a check list of ideas derived from the novelty of the format.

Photo Susanne Dietz

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