Fear is an ambitious sensory performance. Sadly, it was a blind date that failed to impress.
Inside a canvas circus tent, the acoustics were poor for a show that relies on auditory engagement. An enclosed, soundproof space would have helped to replicate the setting of a remote bush camp site.
Instead, I was repeatedly distracted by the outside sounds of nearby shows, as well as overhead helicopters.
The show begins with an MC instructing you to blindfold yourself and to avoid participating if you have heart problems or are pregnant.
Suddenly, you hear the natter of young friends. They’ve lost their way in the bush-GPS isn’t working, mobiles aren’t getting signals-so you feel their disorientation, but it’s not clear if it’s day or night.
It’s like The Blair Witch Project, fuzzy on details and relying on the voices of its characters.
Some of the voices sound similar, and at various times the characters talk over one another and I found myself utterly confused.
The conversations, about whether or not they should put up a tent or whether someone was acting strange because of something they ate, became so irritating that I felt tense not out of fear but because I was worried whether I could endure 55 minutes of annoying chatter.
The storyline had holes that prevented my understanding of events and the biggest flaw was the number of characters. The show might have been easier to follow if there were fewer voices to identify. I just couldn’t keep them straight.
Also, it wasn’t clear until halfway through the performance that one of the characters was blind, which would have been valuable information at the beginning of the show.
I really wanted to be scared by this performance. Unfortunately, all I felt was confused and unsettled by my lack of fear. Sometimes a well-intentioned idea misses its target.
I’m afraid Fear needs to examine some technical and narrative issues to achieve its title.