Becki Crossley went to see Ghosts of the Near Future at Nonsuch Studios...
Described as a ‘cowboy-noir fever dream’, an audience would be excused for not knowing what to expect from Ghosts of the Near Future. Presented by performance duo emma + pj, it promises music, storytelling and live micro-cinema in a genre-bending journey through a disappearing America.
The show premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2022 with a sell-out run, and explores themes of death, extinction and general existential dread - in a format that also includes a giant bunny suit, cabaret and all the razzle-dazzle of a Vegas magic show.
The storytellers take us on a hallucinogenic road trip through a post-apocalyptic landscape towards the shining neon lights of Las Vegas, following a magician preparing to perform the greatest disappearing act the world has ever seen and the haunting characters they meet along the way.
The narrative is interspersed with much more abstract pieces of live art and micro-cinema to illustrate the emerging themes. Each piece of the story is perfectly balanced with carefully executed callbacks and self-references, giving the whole experience a fantastic symmetry.
A hallucinogenic road trip through a post-apocalyptic landscape
It bounces from the surreal to the very real with each segment, asking the audience to consider their own existence at every turn. It feels cinematic and yet intimate, with moments of near-silence as well as loud musical numbers (complete with sequins, dancing and a giant saw).
At its core, Ghosts of the Near Future is a masterful piece of live storytelling. It takes some talent to hold an audience captive by just simply telling a story, but that’s exactly what the performers do. The staging, lighting and sound design all perfectly complement a haunting tale that’s beautifully written and expertly told. A patchwork of performances, it feels chaotic and yet set to a very deliberate beat.
emma + pj claim to work in the intersection of theatre, installation and live art with pieces that explore humanity in extreme landscapes, and that’s exactly what they deliver with Ghosts of the Near Future. It’s experimental, existential and asks all of life’s big questions through the medium of stories about cats, apple trees and a wandering magician.
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