The Electric Hotel stands before us in semi-darkness, a plant on its rooftop and a ‘No Vacancies’ sign lit up out front. Behind it stands Gas Holder No 8, and an expanse of industrial wasteland. Light and sound cue the start of a piece of total theatre, a beautiful, meditative and eerie exploration of isolation and violence seen through the eyes of voyeurs, brought to life through the power of dance, light and cinematic sound.
Electric Hotel is an outdoor performance in a prefab tawdy looking American hotel building for seven dancers, where the audience are invited to listen in through a set of headphones, guided by sound. With four floors and full-length windows, the hotel encapsulates the lives of seven characters, connected by a mysterious blue box and a piercing scream. Directed by Shunt co-founder David Rosenberg, choreographed by Frauke Requardt, designed by Borkur Jonsson and with composition and sound design by Ben and Max Ringham, the performance is a truly collaborative piece that grants its audience the possibility of gazing as deep as they wish into the lives of the people before them.
Structured in loops of movement that develop and accentuate different links between the characters with each repetition, Electric Hotel places the audience in the position of the voyeur, guiding their gaze inside rooms, in amongst bodies and relationships. With each loop the sound reveals different details, suggesting narrative connections and supporting the strong symbolism of the precise and evocative choreography.
Highly reminiscent of David Lynch’s Californian films such as Mulholland Drive and Blue Velvet, Electric Hotel creates its tension by turning the daily lives of its inhabitants into an emotional hotbed, in which personal tragedy and the hotel’s dark underworld are brought to the fore. From the opening scenes in which we are invited to observe habits, relationships and day to day life, the performance progresses to express the inner being of its protagonists underpinned by a sense of broiling violence, isolation and unfulfilled desire.
Electric Hotel is both a dark tale of loss and a beautiful celebration of the gaze. It feels like the culmination of a brewing desire to experience what happens on the other side of bricks, windows and shadows. Yet the performance toys with voyeurism, creating a world of mad tensions, dark desires and lost dreams in a beautifully symbolic and cinematic auditory and visual experience.