Summerhall – Demonstration Room
One of my favourite things to do – when I can – is go to the cinema in the middle of the day. It feels so luxurious, basking in another world with space, time and narrative stretched out before you. And all whilst everyone else is working. I love that feeling of total immersion that great films achieve. To be honest, as long as there’s a consistent and engaging tone, I can enjoy pretty much anything. Rarely have I had that same feeling watching a play. As I exit Ghosts of the Near Future, however, blinking into the midday sun, I feel as though I’ve just crashed out of a cinematic universe.
This, I think, is the show’s intention. Billed as a cowboy-noir fever dream, Ghosts of the Near Future uses captivating storytelling, vivid sound and enchantingly inventive live micro-cinematography to achieve this. And it’s absolutely entrancing. Ostensibly, the production follows a magician travelling across the bleak, hallucinatory desert landscapes of Nevada. He’s heading for Las Vegas, where he will perform the greatest disappearing act of all time. Buzzing along at the back of this apocalyptic landscape is the looming threats to our own climate.
Emma Clark and PJ Stanley are quite simply brilliant storytellers. They’re engrossing as narrators but the élan with which they execute such a varied set of performance and multimedia styles keeps me completely immersed in the world of the play. In particular, the micro-filming projected onto a large screen upstage helps ground this fantastical world into something the audience can cling onto amidst the absurd. This is a real highlight for me and the symbolism of presenting these small details by projection was not lost in Summerhall’s Demonstration Room – a former surgical teaching space. The sheer confidence of the performers in their commitment to the piece’s absurdity was impressive also. An interlude in which both characters simply take a break to share a hotdog really tickled me.
As the show develops, the narrative begins to fragment under the weight and angst of the impending apocalypse. Shifting into a more expressive style, the focus is trained closer to home. It has me appreciating the relevance of the preceding reverie.
Ghosts of the Near Future presents the end of the world as a disappearing act. Like any good magician, we’re asked: “Are you watching closely?”. If we don’t take notice, if we fail to see what’s happening before our eyes then this is the kind of bleak, strange world our children will inherit. It might seem the stuff of science fiction, but scarily it might not be. For my part, I hope this vision of ecological catastrophe really is confined to the movies.
Written by: Emma Clark and PJ Stanley
Scenography by: Georgie Hook
Sound Design by: Patch Middleton
Lighting Design by: Alex Fernandes
Technician: Virginie Serneels
Produced by: emma & pj
Ghosts if the Near Future plays at EdFringe 2022 until 28 August. Further information and bookings can be found here.