Theatre review: Klanghaus (Summerhall)

Every year at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe there’s a word-of mouth hit; a performance that becomes a hot ticket through whisper and rumour.

This year it was undoubtedly KlangHaus - an immersive theatrical experience contained in the unlikely setting of a former small animal hospital in the grounds of the Summerhall venue.

There’s little to prepare you for what’s to come as you enter via an elevator manned by a intense looking bearded man.

There’s no indication of whether he’s a performer or simply part of the venue staff as awkward ‘hellos’ are exchanged.

The audience are deposited in drips and drabs into the bowels of the hospital, a faint smell of antiseptic lingering in the air.

‘Wards’ are open to be explored, containing artistic musings echoing the animals that used to inhabit the space.

The audience gathers in a room that contains musicians in cages before the elevator attendant wanders in and starts singing, accompanied by rattling chains, hammered cage bars and ear-piercing synth.

This group of musicians are The Neutrinos and over the next 40 minutes they usher, cajole and will their crowd through a series of rooms that grow ever more surprising as the music intensifies, slowly turning a piece of promenade theatre into an all-out gig.

A door swings opens to reveal a drummer in full flow; a girl and a boy exchange tender couplets separated by a thin screen; a gentle acoustic song remembers the lives that came and went within the crumbling walls; a tiny kitchen becomes a crammed singalong sweatbox.

By the time the performance reaches the largest chamber the musicians are in full flow, whirling and pogoing amidst the audience who have little choice but to join in.

It’s an experience that overwhelms without ever feeling contrived and - a rarity in a festival where everything seems to have been done before - utterly unique.