BRIGHTON FRINGE REVIEW: Etherwave: Adventures With The Theremin: Hypnotique

May 21, 2017


Adventures With The Theremin


Dukebox Theatre

This is a curious hybrid of music, fascinating educational lecture and semi auto-biography of performer Hypnotique who regales us with her personal story about how she came to fall in love with and learn to play the world’s first electronic instrument – the Theremin invented in 1920s Russia. After some less than serious history mingled in with some very interesting information and history on how electronic music developed and it’s influence on music today – including Led Zeppelin, Kraftwerk and Portishead, which Hypnotique clearly linked back in the Thermin and it’s inventory. It all leads back to him, but in this case her as well, id have liked some more of the personal story, as she struck a enigmatic chord, elegant, dressed as a disciple of the  Anna May Wong school of mystery, evidently world traveled and yet somehow, curiously nervous of being in Hove and sharing her passion with us.

As she talks and links up with some faux live connections with fellow Thermenists around the world, Hypnotique managed an impressive tour through the history of the instrument – with some intentionally dodgy photo-shopping-  its effect and how to play it and even why. She then did some clever duets and music performances, one of ‘don’t you want me baby’ very funny indeed and then continued to weave  tall tales of espionage, spooky soundtracks, and her encounters with Amazonians, Bob Moog and Simon Cowell. It all hung together fairly well but as this is not the first time this show has had an outing, I expected it to be a little tighter, although the lack of a sound technician at the music venue might have caused the less than perfect accompanying sound which all but obliterated a self penned song. When she returned to the Theremin, she shone,  it’s the most curious of things to listen to but also to watch played and her technique harks back to one of the most accomplished players of this difficult instrument Clare Rockmore with the clawed hand vibrato teasing subtle tones and sounds from the ether.

Hypnotique studied the theremin with Lydia Kavina, grand-niece of its inventor Leon Theremin. She’s performed with The Heliocentrics, Gong and TV’s James May’s 20th Century her pedigree is impressive as is her skills and this is an educational show which is also musically innovative and leads us back to the start of music shifting from an analogue only world to the endless electronic, digital possibilities of today.

There was no time for questions, which was a pity as the attentive and engaged audience were brimming with them, I wanted to know if her emotional state changed the way the music sounded and also why after so much development, investment and seriously technical advancement that her theremin looked like  a travel-lodge trouser press.

Full details of the event can be found on the fringe website here: