EDINBURGH | GLASGOW | ABERDEEN | INVERNESS | DUNDEE | PERTH

Erewhon

at Summerhall

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A Magic Lantern is employed to tell a mystical story of colonialism.

Image of Erewhon

Erewhon was a book published by the writer Samuel Butler way back in 1872. The landscape described in the novel closely resembles the Canterbury region of New Zealand. The mysterious book follows a Victorian explorer visiting a time travelling refugee community who have abandoned technology. The show starts with our narrator Arthur Meek letting us know we can keep our phones on. In fact he passes an iPhone around the audience so we can film him as he talks. Arthur goes on to discuss colonialism and how much destruction and harm it has caused. The narrator then continues to describe the presentation of the show. He will use a Magic Lantern projection device to display a series of slides. All this will be soundtracked by the musician Eva Prowse. From the first few minutes of the Erewhon it is obvious that we are going to experience a lot of different ideas during the show.

The projected slides within he Magic Lantern include images drawn by modern day artists, who all use techniques that were available when the book was written. This gives the show an authentic and other worldly feel, as we see images of colourful birds, vast landscapes, sexual practices and interesting creatures. Arthur Meek narrators a science fiction story based on the Erewhon story over these images. The parallels with modern day technology and colonialism are uncanny. Meanwhile Eva Prowse creates an evocative soundtrack that has its influence in German bands such as Can and Kraftwerk. She builds up soundscapes that add to the science fiction element of Erewhon and her music is one of the highlights of the show.

At one point a chamber on the Magic Lantern is opened. Inside is a small scene made up of paper cut outs. The performer grabs his smart phone and a video of the scene is projected on the back of the stage. This technique is only used once and we only see one small scene. Erewhon would have been more majestic and innovative if similar techniques were employed more often. Having said this, the show still covers many important themes and presents them in an exciting visual style.