There’s a point in Shine On Collective’s Echo 1/Inside My Soul when, sitting in the passenger seat next to Victor Hamlin, sitting next to the man I’m about to become, where something he says strikes me in a peculiar way.
There is something at work in the soul which we do not understand.
It’s a take on a quote from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, the inspiration for Echo 1, where Captain Walton describes his immovable desire to explore—a parallel to the overarching ambition of Doctor Victor Frankenstein. It’s used here in Echo 1 in an audio monologue from Victor Hamlin—I hear his voice in my ears even as we sit together—and it feels almost like an excuse for what’s about to transpire.
I exit the car and enter a small hotel room where Elizabeth waits for me, now as Victor, so we can finally be alone. “But we’re never alone, are we, Victor?” she muses. My work, I realize, has been coming between us all this time, and as much as I want to focus on her, to say I’m not Victor, I’m here, this is just a memory. Victor’s memory of a terrible day— a continuation of Midsummer Scream’s Echoes in the Dark scenes—again making me wonder Victor, what have you done?
Something that really works in this piece is the solemn ambiguity that director Marlee Delia and writer Anna Mavromati manage to permeate throughout it. Where in Shelley’s novel, there is no real question as to the cause of Elizabeth’s fate, Echo 1 is suffused with a deliberate sense of confusion. As the score swells around Elizabeth and I, it becomes a rising cacophony, agitating me and making me question whether the cause of the tragedy before me is some Creature, whether the Monster in question is simply within me. The sound work from Kate Kohler is expertly used here to slowly unfold the darkening tone of the story—coupled with voiceover work from Larry Duncan as Victor—I find myself paranoid, terrified, and somehow guilty.
Duncan himself, however, seems underused outside of that brilliant, accusatory voice in the hotel room; his opening monologue—delivered via recording on a set of headphones as I sat next to him in a car—may have been somewhat more effective had Duncan personally delivered it in the moment. Instead, what was a stylistic choice that is the mostly-successful hallmark of the Echoes in the Dark series so far, seemed to reduce the impact of a powerful performance.
Contrasting what until this point had been an audio recording-only journey, Karlie Blair, reprising her Midsummer Scream role as Elizabeth, feels like the first truly “real” character we’ve encountered on the Echoes journey so far. The pairing of her intoxicating, tragic performance with the robust second monologue from Duncan provide the feverish denouement that this violent slice of Victor’s memory required.
Overall, Echo 1 is a strong chapter in the Echoes story, and leaves participants eager for the next installment. While it does suffer somewhat from its length—the entire experience clocks in at around twenty minutes—the content is worth the exploration. Blair’s performance as Victor’s equally brilliant lover, scratching desperately to penetrate the wall that his “work” has built around him, is the lynchpin that drives the success of the narrative, and Duncan’s Victor deserves, and will hopefully get, his own real interactions with his audience going forward.
What happened here…I can’t say that it wasn’t my fault. Did Victor know what would happen? Did he try to stop it? “You’re not a monster,” I hear Victor’s voice—my voice—say as I move to leave that hotel room, to flee. I look back, taking in what disaster I’m leaving behind me, and I have my doubts.
Echo 1/Inside My Soul is currently sold out, but fans are encouraged to sign up for Shine On Collective’s mailing list for updates on a future remount of the production and future shows. You can also follow Shine On on Instagram and Facebook.