27_LIST_08_2002-2.jpgOne ordinary moment we're standing on a rugby pitch in Stockbridge, the next we're transported into this nightmarish world the award-winning Russian Derevo creates from Dante's epic poem. As Dante goes on his journey through hell, purgatory and heaven, we meet all kinds of grotesque creatures who appear as if from nowhere. Most of them look like nothing we've seen before, making it hard not to be scared as the unknown looms before we've had a chance to label, control and stop these irrational fears.
   Sitting in the round, we're not watching theatre. We are theatre. This is interactive; playing with our senses and not a modern piece of technology in sight. We're experiencing the same hell, the same corruption and the same joy as Dante's characters as we literally smell the fear, feel the forces, taste the glory, see the dreams and hear the fantastical. Four agile performers slip in and out of movement, costumes and every nook and cranny there is, working like machines with the large scale staging, forming an illusion that there are hundreds of dancers involved in this dream-like creation.
  Reaching a calmer world, free of sin and hatred, the tone is lightened and we're invited to enjoy the celebrations. A nervous relief turns into laughter, peace is restored; we recognise the characters' humane elements and we're in control again. A stunning piece of physical, technical and visual theatre which isn't scared to re-break audience/performer boundaries to reach a heightened state of theatrical experience. (Mererid Williams)

• Assembly Big Top, 2262428, until 26 Aug (not 14, 21), 70pm, £70-£77 (£9-£W).

8-15 AUG 2002/ISSUE 447/WEEKLY/£2.20
The very best of the Fringe
• Derevo - La Divina
physical theatre company
recreates Dante's vision with a
stunning piece of visual
entertainment. Primal fears and
nightmare worlds are evoked in
an ebbing and flowing
spectacle. Assembly Big Top,
226 2428, until 26 Aug (not
14,21), 10pm, E10-E11

• Hammerklavier
Acclaimed Australian actor
Susie Lindeman performs an
adaptation of Yasmina Reza's
semi-autobiographical novel
about grief and loss. Both
funny and deeply moving.
Assembly Rooms, 226 2428,
until 26 Aug (not 13, 20),
3.30pm, £10-£11 (£9-£10).

• Stitching Anthony
Neilson's brooding drama is
bound to create controversy,
dealing as it does with issues

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