Séance: A nightmare magic show that will mess you up

There is really only one way in which Séance can be described — a really spooky and unsettling magic show that will probably give you nightmares.

If you are scared, unsettled or frightened by anything on the following list, this immersive experience may be one you want to avoid.

This list includes, but is not limited to: ghosts, creepy Victorian-era toys, which may or may not contain malevolent spirits, ouija boards, audience members being levitated in front of you, being plunged into complete and total darkness for extended periods of time, and other terrifying things that will make you jump out of your chair and embarrass yourself in a room full of people.

Poster for Séance, playing at Theatre Passe Maurille.

From the poster for Séance, a production playing at Theatre Passe Muraille.

The brainchild of illusionist Nicholas Wallace and director Luke Brown, Séance successfully brings together elements of a magic show, complete with copious amounts of audience participation and a one-man theatre performance. The production, which is showing at the Theatre Passe Muraille, features video projections and photo-backdrops that help establish a narrative structure and setting. The scariest element was the soundscapes, which will seriously mess up your sleeping habits until long after Halloween. If you attend a performance before its closing, I suggest not going by yourself.

The first two-thirds of the show are all about establishing the history of modern attempts to communicate with the other side: the séance. What follows are a series of experiences and illusions that connect the audience with the world of the dead. Spirits from beyond seemingly work through randomly selected people in the audience in a variety of really quite frightening ways. Think magic tricks, but this magician is evil and wants you to be scared.

The evening culminates in a circle, with everyone instructed to hold hands. All lights are extinguished into a darkness so black you can feel its weight on your skin. The audience members then participate in an actual séance that is all about the very visceral experience of being afraid of what you cannot see. Soft noises that might be something sinister in the dark, the feeling of someone or something right behind you, will scare you more than you are willing to admit.

Séance plays at Theatre Passe Muraille on 16 Ryerson Ave. until Oct. 11. General admission is $35, with a $5 discount for people who work in the arts. Catch it before it’s gone, if you dare.

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