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Toujours et Pres de Moi review at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh – ‘pensive and dream-like’

Sarah Thom and Francois Testory in Toujours et Pres de Moi at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh Sarah Thom and Francois Testory in Toujours et Pres de Moi at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh

Pepper’s Ghost is a 19th-century illusionary trick created by the strategic positioning of mirrors so that an image appears seemingly inexplicably where it shouldn’t.

Toujours et Pres de Moi by Patrick Eakin Young is a piece of almost dialogue-free theatre centred on this historic theatrical technique. 

In this specific case, the ‘ghosts’ are sent into the performance space by first being projected onto the floor. 

 A woman (Sarah Thom) and a man (Francois Testory) stand at a table topped with wooden boxes. A few loud knocks signal the start of a succession of tiny people emerging and retreating into these boxes.

 And… that’s about it.

The couple watches as the holographic Borrowers act out a story of love, rejection, aloneness and human connection, some of which appears to function as a microcosm of the couple’s own relationship.

Underscored by a succession of operatic songs, the work is enjoyably meditative and visually arresting. The images are like half-forgotten memories or never-realised dreams. But once you’ve got over the initial cleverness of Pepper’s Ghost, the repetition of the piece is a little too much. Perhaps, in an age of VR technology, we’re too spoilt for illusions to really marvel at Victorian artistry.

 

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Verdict
Pensive and dream-like recreation of a Victorian theatrical illusion
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