The less you know about The Curiosity Experiment, the better the show will be. It’s an evening of mystery – a tribute to Victorian horror – experienced under the cover of darkness.
Be welcomed to Carclew by your ghoulish host, then ushered into a stately dining room. Take your seat around the table, but don’t get attached to it. There’ll be a shuffling of the guests before too long. You’re eased into the proceedings by a tweedy gentleman who leads a reading of an old letter. Here the scene is set and the history established.
You have gathered to take part in the Curiosity Experiment, a séance of sorts that tempts out secrets and memories from objects. The original experiment was conducted on a pair of inscribed rings; tonight, you will attempt to awaken the memories left behind in the blindfolds worn at that original event.
So, that’s the first thing to note – you will be blindfolded, but you tie the ribbon round your eyes yourself. The cloth is thin enough to see shadows through, but the lights will also be off in the room. This is an aural spectacular, with the cast of demons and ghosts howling, growling and rollicking around the room behind you. There is also the creepy chanting of nursery rhymes, and rounds of unsettling giggling. Often, the dialogue is rapid to the point of blurring, so you will have to lean in and concentrate to catch every word. By nature, this event is unsuitable for people with hearing impairments.
The story evoked by the experiment is a cross between a noir detective film and a campfire tale. It’s a little bit hammy – especially since the main character is possessed by what sounds like a 1920s New York ‘dame’ – but the details of the narrative aren’t really the drawcard.
The thrill of the Curiosity Experiment is its staging – its creative use of darkness and sound. The deprivation in the dark fine-tunes your senses of hearing, touch and smell (the sour breath of one ghostie suggests she was drinking coffee not long before the show…), and brings your imagination to life.
One final tip: if you’re not a fan of jump scares, keep your hands off the table.
The Curiosity Experiment was performed at Carclew as part of the Adelaide Fringe Festival at 10pm on Friday, 3 March 2017 and continues until Tuesday, March 7.