Hauntology at Edinburgh Fringe 2019: a cosmic journey
If you ever wondered what it would feel like to be Naomi Watts in the Silencio sequence of Mulholland Drive, Hauntology might just be the show for you. Straddling midnight – itself a symbol of both death and rebirth – Monelise’s ethereal musical performance takes the listener on a cosmic journey through the astral plane.
Walking into the dark, disarmingly large space (maybe two hundred seats, for a performance that sadly attracted only five spectators) the first thing I notice is a Moog Theremini – a sure sign that things are about to get spacey. I’m approached by celloist Laura Victoria, who hands me a singed, typewritten note from myself and a ‘bag of scents’ that instantly makes everything feel about two hours later and a couple shades more mystical.
As the show begins, Monelise wonders onto the stage, plays a few notes on the keyboard, then moves over to a front-centre microphone whilst Andy Barr replaces her at the piano and Victoria takes up a cello.
Over the course of the next hour, the trio – representing past, present and future, take us on an inward journey inspired by the phenomena of the title. That nostalgia you feel whilst watching Stranger Things is false – a yearning for a past that never happened, at least not in this universe, and that you never lived through. The self-reflexivity of time as experienced by societies and cultures manifests as an ever-turning cycle of trends through eras – trends inspired by previous trends the inventors never lived through, but for whatever reason feel an affinity for.
Monelise detects strains of this false nostalgia in the music of Chopin, which takes her on a quest to discover elements from her past and future lives – conveying the odyssey through a mixture of song and dance. Likewise, we’re encouraged to reflect on our own place within the cosmos from the audience.
I’d probably say that this is a performance that will only attract those in tune with it, if the crowd on my night wasn’t so at odds with that statement: a Portuguese man who couldn’t really speak English and who seemed to interpret the whole thing as a concert to be filmed and clapped at throughout, a middle-aged, drunk English man, and his two late-teen children. What a strange audience. Then again, we could all be here for a reason.
At times, the crackling of a record player or a miniature TV is added into the mix with stunning effect, and the minimal yet effective lighting design of the piece gives the whole thing an otherworldly sheen. Although the singing can be, at one or two instances, a little off key, this is overall a magical evening in fantastic company. A perfect nightcap to a long day at the Fringe.