THERE'S not a chink of light as I'm guided uncertainly into the theatre by the hands of an usher.
But the darkness has only began to descend, as for the next 50 minutes we're subjected to an emotional barrage of domestic abuse, murder and child abandonment.
I'm one of about 20 people sat in the pitch black, unable even to see my own hands, inside Notting Hill's Print Room for tonight's performance of Tutto Bene, Mamma?
The action takes place entirely in darkness in Gloria Mina's unsettling psychological drama, adapted by April de Angelis, with the lights only coming on once the proverbial curtains have fallen.
'Don't worry, we're watching you throughout,' says the usher somewhat disconcertingly as he leads us into the blackened auditorium.
Staff are equipped with infrared goggles so they can spot anyone in discomfort - or couples using it as an excuse to make out - he explains.
The experience is indeed extremely unsettling, especially at first. The woman next to me found it so unnerving she had to be led out.
After a few minutes, the low hum of scooters and the buzzing of idle gossip transport you through the streets of Naples and into the flat of Anna and her son Primo.
Here we see the patterns of domestic abuse experienced by Anna's mother repeating themselves, as she is scolded by her partner for failing to pour his beer properly.
Little Primo seems blissfully unaware of his mother's woes, being more concerned with looking after his pet squirrel Quick, until something goes wrong and he's left to fend for himself.
It's here the total darkness really kicks in, helping you appreciate the youngster's terrifying and bewildering predicament - one he tries to escape by slipping into fantasy.
The sound of pans clattering around your feet, the manic patter of footsteps echoing against the walls and the smell of baking percolating through the air helps build a dense world of uncertainty.
Dpe Angelis struck West End gold with Jumpy, her acclaimed comedy about a neurotic mother coming to terms with her daughter growing up, and this riffs on similar themes.
But they couldn't be further apart in tone. If Jumpy felt like a slightly bumpy balloon ride, this is akin to someone sticking a fork in your eyes and throwing you down a well.
As the play winds towards it pulse-quickening conclusion, Primo speaks unsettlingly about 'something bad inside' trying to get out - perhaps a sign the cycle of abuse hidden behind the sunny, laundry-draped balconies is doomed to repeat itself.
Soon after, I stumble, blinking and disorientated, out into the bright evening.
This bold experiment has put me through an emotional spin dry and, while not a complete triumph, given me a rare insight into the world of childhood.
* Tutto Bene, Mamma? is at the Print Room, in Notting Hill, until July 6.