Russian evolution
Derevo - La Divina

creatures and an existential Everyman joust with the forces of nature, physics and vagaries of the heart and soul.
At one turn candles are lit, bread and wine handed out and the audience invited to participate in a gleefully chaotic birthday celebration. In another, mute games are played in which bees are let loose and the stage transformed into a lily pond through mime alone. Elsewhere, encores accompany a two-way mirror burlesque that deals with the art of theatricality itself. All of it a bustling, sometimes bruising sideshow of nightmare visions and beatific moments charting an incredible voyage of discovery.
Beguiling and mystifying in equal measure, with La Divina Commedia, Derevo has come up with an abstract expressionist canvas of humanity in which feeling, not meaning, is the key. The only disappointment is a damp squib of a finish that doesn't do justice to the emotional and physical pyrotechnics that have gone before. Alan Chadwlck
Until Aug 26, Assembly Big Top (VI45), 22:00 to 23:30, £10 to £11, £9 to £10 cones. Metro Fringe Box Office: 0131
Ever wondered what it must have felt like to be ringside at the Moulin Rouge in its heyday? Or to catch Pagliacci drowning in tears at the sorrows of existence?
Well, fear not, for anarchic Russian clown troupe Derevo is at hand to bring you physical theatre at its most daring and spectacular, whose memory will linger long in the mind after the Fringe has gone into hibernation.
Not that La Divina Commedia is flawless. For starters, the shadow of Dante's Divine Comedy is faint. And if it's structured narrative you're after, forget it. The normal theatre rules of who, what, where, when and why simply don't apply.
Rather, this is an intellectually challenging dumb show about existence where life, death, pain, oppression and beauty are put through their paces in segments which often outshine the whole. Inviting comparisons with Munch's The Scream, Pilgrim's Progress and Fellini at his most carnivalesque, a coterie of fools, trick-
Back to the beginning...