If you are in any way afraid of the dark, at all, ‘Ring’ is not for you. In fact, you should really stop reading this review right now.
For everyone else: David Rosenberg’s disorientating headphones piece takes place in actual old-fashioned pitch darkness. By the end, I thought maybe I could dimly discern the outline of my fingers. That was about it.
Fortunately you’re not required to do anything more than listen to the sounds coming from your headphones, which are supposedly wired up to relay anything said by another audience member directly into your ears.
The ring of the title appears to be a therapy circle (for who knows what malaise) that our ears tell us has been formed by a group of fellow audience members, all of whom seem to know each other and our host Rosenberg. After a while, things started to get seriously trippy: Rosenberg started whispering flattering things into my ear; the other members of the group told me he was trying to kill me; somebody else got murdered; somehow we all ended up on a beach.
‘Ring’s basic vibe is a dark (very dark) playful mind-fuck. It won’t take you long to glean that most of what you’re hearing is pre-recorded and, despite the odd creepy moment, you will not fear for your life. But Rosenberg’s binaural sound design is immensely sophisticated. Knowing that the person talking to you can’t possibly really be there doesn’t make them any less tangible, and deprived of all other senses, we’re left with little alternative but to visualise the strange events being suggested to us.
Glen Neath’s narrative is evocative, but rather confusing, and I’ve seen similar ground covered more potently in Melanie Wilson’s exquisite ‘Iris Brunette’ and Lundahl & Seitl’s towering ‘Symphony of a Missing Room’. But ‘Ring’ is, nonetheless, quite the trip. Andrzej Lukowski