Saturday, 26 June 2010

Faye Fornasier reviews Electric Hotel

Do you remember the little blue box at the end of Lynch's Mullholland Drive? Hold that thought.

Electric Hotel is an open-air spectacle set against the last remaining Victorian ironwork Gas Holder, in Kings Cross, in a set that develops towards the sky, rather than on a stage. The spectators are required to wear headphones and plunge into the seductive role of Peeping Toms, only somehow, underwater. From the sounds, perfect yet suspended and surreal, to the hotel itself, reminiscent of big aquarium tanks, everything alludes to oneiric, underwater imagery.

The inhabitants of the Electric Hotel are visible through the windows at nightfall; each with their own obsessive behaviours, mysterious visitors, phone conversations and daunting dances to sensual Jazz, much like Audrey Horne’s dance in Twin Peaks – am I back to Lynch again? The parallel runs on.

On the Sadler’s Wells website it is explained that ‘some time ago, an unspeakable incident destroyed the reputation of the five star Electric Hotel’, we are given some kind of a plot, but the mesmerized, open mouthed faces of the spectators crowding around the hotel show that the fact that there isn’t a plot per se isn’t a problem, in fact, nobody misses it – we are content with the low and ebb of repetition, dances and moves that seem unrelated and suddenly synchronise the occupants revealing a communal umbilical cord between the cells of the womb-like hotel.

Water is not only perceived here, it’s also an obvious component of the show, another occupant. The rooftop pool introduces and closes the show, marking the beginning of each cycle as the pregnant swimmer emerges from it over and over. Water invades several rooms in different ways over the course of the night, making the passage from room to room fluid and natural.

The closing scene is an apotheosis of references and imagery that really set my mind in motion. A disturbed child wearing red Indian headgear, just like Audrey Horne’s brother in Twin Peaks, meets jelly-like dark figures, which move like seaweed, immediately reminding of Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle’s evil guards, or Spirited Away’s river spirit, or even the daemons taking over the wounded animal spirits in Princess Mononoke. The jelly-like figures take over the hotel, breaking through the walls like a tsunami, sweeping away the occupants and changing their lives. In the meantime, in the roof bar of the Hotel, a jellified Nick Cave-like singer sexily croons over electric sounds –the party unaware of the revolution happening below – much like the Llorando moment in Mullholland Drive, or any other lynchian performance moment.

Until the mysterious blue box gets into the right hands and is finally opened.

Satisfyingly electric, mind teasing and breathtakingly beautiful. You’d love your stay at this hotel.

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