Incorporating THE EVENING NEWS 35p "
Fast and furious
Human grotesquerie:Tatiana Khabarova, one of Russian theatre troupe Derevo's quartet, performs an unplugged version of Dante's Comedy

wedding dance, witches, goblins, and a madman on the heath, all tarred and feathered. There's; an hilarious front stage/back stage sequence, and then a horrific scene when a naked madman appears with what looks like a cow bell attached to his testicles The movement is tightly choreographed and intensely physical — the performers strain and convulse, revealing the moral convulsions within. This is unsettling to watch, but nevertheless compelling. Admittedly, someone's overdone the dry ice, there's one too many wind machines, and the arches in the final sequence are the spit of those airport walk-through metal detectors. However, none of this should deter you from this fascinating show. It has a directness lacking in much of the West End.

Until Saturday 22 September.
Box office: 020 82371111.

EIGHTEEN months ago the Royal Academy exhibited Botticelli's drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy Those 500-year-old ink works drew thousands to the Sackler Wing, all spellbound by Botticelli's restrained treatment of a terrifying subject. I mention this not to suggest a parity between Botticelli and the Russian theatre troupe Derevo's version of the Comedy, but as a reminder of the different perspectives we have on Dante's work.
Botticelli's illustrations werecontemplated in the peace of the Sackler galleries, while Derevo offers us a loud, fast, frightening, utterly unplugged piece of theatre, a sort of extreme mime-cum-dance of death that you watch agog with your jaw dropped. Fresh from the Edinburgh Fringe, the tiny troupe of four transform the revolving, circular stage (placed in-the- round at the Riverside) into a teeming
La Divina Commedia
Riverside Studios. W6
Sarah Prater

metropolis, a frozen lake, a birthday cake, a lonely heath, the celestial spheres, and the circuitous route to heaven through hell. The quartet are similar in size and shape, and, with their identically shaven heads, the two men and two women are difficult to tell apart. This gives then an anonymity that is hugely effective — you forget the actors and follow the action. This is white-knuckle ride, a human grotesquerie and a pilgrim's progress rolled into one. The scenes come thick and fast, tableau after tableau of humankind — a furious sprite, a folk
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