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Edinburgh 2022: Review: EULOGY, Summerhall

Edinburgh 2022: Review: EULOGY, Summerhall

A ghost train that doesn't move

Edinburgh 2022: Review: EULOGY, Summerhall Much like the "Hotel California", the hotel setting of Eulogy is one where you can never leave. But this is no dark desert highway. It's a nightmarish purgatory that you can't wake up from.

Calling itself a location-based experience, Darkfield, the theatre company behind Eulogy, have stripped everything back to just the audio. What results is a clash of ASMR and absurdism with a pinch of terror thrown in. But as fun as Eulogy is, it feels lacking in its narrative potential.

Each audience member is given a headphone and a microphone through which they experience the recorded performance. The room itself, an ominous shipping container outside Summerhall with laundry baskets-cum-seats, is eerie enough. But then the room is plunged into total darkness.

Think of the story like a choose-your-own-adventure, if that adventure was written by Samuel Beckett. A recorded voice, or a 'chaperone' guides each audience member through a mysterious hotel. Thanks to expert sound design by David Rosenburg the hotel is well-formed as a location; through various echoes are creeks one cannot help but imagine the sparsest of liminal spaces, a conference centre, a bland windowless bedroom room. The creepy elevator music that pops in and out has a distinctly Pinteresque threat, as do the marauding silences. Jack Torrence could very plod around the corner at any moment.

But as brilliant as the sound design is in creating a visceral world, the weak narrative precludes Eulogy from reaching its storytelling potential. Are we sedated? Dying? Or just dreaming? The lack of detail becomes irksome when nothing substantial comes of it. Whilst other absurdist writers use surrealism to explore the human condition, all Eulogy can do is send shivers down your spine. That is not to say it is not fun. It could just do more with the brilliantly unique concept.

This critic's chaperone ended up abandoning them, choosing to "escape" with another chaperone. It meant little given the lack of context. Judging by the audible giggles and gasps of other audience members, the stories all seemed to end in the same lacklustre place.

But in limiting itself to just audio, Eulogy does have an uphill struggle from a theatrical perspective. So perhaps its best not to overthink it, and just go along for the ride with what is one of the Edinburgh festival's more eccentric theatrical experiences.

Eulogy plays at Summerhall until 28 August

Photo Credit: Susanne Dietz

From This Author - Alexander Cohen

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