Initiation – Dublin Fringe Festival – Review
Initiation – Matthew Bratko & Frank Sweeney
Performances – 10 – 12 & 17 – 19 September, 22:00, €12
Other Performances – 5, 11, 12, 18 & 19 September, Midnight, €12
“Lock Your Door. Turn Off Your Lights. Begin Your Initiation.”
Productions of this type are often best seen without any prior knowledge of the event. There is an air of mystery to them and once you know the details they become a little more mundane. While we have made an effort not to give too much away, it might be best to skip to the final paragraph, unless you feel you need to know more about the particulars of the event!
This Fringe production takes the form of a zoom call. Once you get your ticket, you will be sent a shopping list of items that are required to attend. The items hint at the nature of the performance about to take place. You are required to dress in black clothing and wear a black hood!
On the zoom call, all you can see are the faces of the other members of the group. As they are all dressed as required, it creates an unusual ambience. The voices of the other members of the group are muted and the only voice you can hear is that of the host called simply ‘Initiation’. You are required to darken the room you are in and then the performance begins.
At the start of the production, a disembodied voice tells you that you can leave the call at any stage. Also, you are not guaranteed to make it to the end of the performance. If you wish to hear the ending, you will be required to carry out a number of tasks. These tasks take the form of dares, some involving a small amount of pain and others inducing the gag reflex, so it is not for the faint of heart!
The production is a guided meditation of sorts. It starts with the voice telling you about a night you visited a nightclub. You make your way past the bouncers and visit the world inside the doors. Once there, you hear all the typical sounds of this suave destination… but there is more going on than you suspect and you are quickly propelled into a world beneath the surface.
This is an unusual and inventive production. If it were not for the pandemic, it may have arrived in a different format or have taken place in person. While at the start of the production, you are most definitely in your kitchen or sitting room, it does manage to transport you to a different world. The disembodied voice that guides you on this trip to the other side is that of Matthew Bratko, and his constant and unnerving delivery is almost hypnotic. If your weekly zoom quiz night has gone more than a bit stale or you’re just looking for something left of centre, this production more than fits the bill!