Edinburgh Fringe 2022
Ghosts of the Near Future is a cowboy-noir fever dream about extinction. Colliding music, storytelling and live micro-cinema, it is a hallucinatory road-trip through a vanishing landscape, a haunting collage of miracles and misdirection.
The duo of Emma and PJ are top notch story-tellers who weave multiple threads of existential tales that play out (mostly) in the US desert, as a magician looks for Los Vegas and instead finds a desert preacher, a bar in a mirage serving only gasoline, and the sudden appearances of powerful superhuman allies.
Somewhere in here there is a white rabbit costume and a series of small sleights of hand that are done in full view of the audience mostly involving cell phone cameras slowly tracking over the map showing us the cities and terrain of the journey, (“Dead Gulch”, “Last Corral”, or “Gone Broke Mine”). or projecting the effects of scores of tiny toy men stirred into a tank of water as the protagonist falls deeper into their existential rabbit hole. The art installation aspect of the piece is entirely unapologetic, and there is even an intermission where the actors take a break in front of us.
There is theatrical irony, but it is never overplayed, and so we remain on this entirely enjoyable ride. The pace is exquisite, and the audience was packed and engaged with every word and action , with PJ and Emma, costumed in, well, everyday clothes, as both the techies and the story-tellers. With an exquisitely evocative score under each sequence, they are presenting their stories using every means at their fingertips.
The result is a home-made brew of great integrity, creativity and enjoyment. Animated words appear, almost as tone poems with slow motion walking, and there is a memorable section where a pair of headlights are revealed by pulling back a red curtain, and the two go for a swaying ride in a 1960’s convertible in the desert. Nothing is literal, and the mirages that appear and disappear are part of the joy of the experience.
I loved this piece- it was an entirely original and beautifully constructed existential journey. With allusions to nuclear bombs, climate change and demonic encounters, there is an underscore of danger. As we are cautioned at the opening: “The magician always asks you a question, but the question is actually a misdirection.” The audience was rapt. . A Highly Recommended Show.