Electric Hotel is a bizarre and beautiful outdoor spectacle; a uniquely designed, fly-by-night residence brought to life through dance and sound.
The hotel stands before us in semi-darkness, a plant on its rooftop and a ‘No Vacancies’ sign lit up out front. In the midst of an urban wasteland, crowded with jagged, thick-set metal cast-offs, there sits a chunk of elsewhere. Announcing itself as the Electric Hotel is a four-storey, glass-fronted building bejeweled with the sort of winking neon signs that entice passing tourists, preying on their naivety with glitter and dazzle. It’s almost as if the structure has been wrenched from its Costa del Sol or Copacabana foundations. 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.
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 David Rosenberg with choreographer Frauke Requardt, 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.
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.
Structured in loops of movement that develop and accentuate different links between the characters with each repetition, Electric Hotel guides the audience gaze inside rooms, in amongst bodies and relationships.
Set designer Börkur Jónsson, inspired by the early modernistic architecture movement, has balanced interior volume and exterior presence. But various other aspects have a major impact on the overall design, such as the spatial relationship between the dancers and audience, the logistics of transport, and the impact of this entity on its immediate urban surroundings.
The hotel itself is built from six 40 foot high cube shipping containers which were all hacked apart to fit the floor to ceiling windows, stairwells and larger rooms. And although there is a well documented experience of shipping containers being turned into a variety of different buildings, there are few examples where the finished building then gets broken down into its component parts, driven across the country to get put together again in less than three days as the Electric Hotel has experienced now three times.
The set and overall experience is well worth catching before the show leaves London for other neighboring cities.