La Divina Commedia
Assembly Big Top
'The Solden Pavilion
•The Complete lost Works
1 of Samuel Beekett,

Assembly Rooms
Glided Balloon Teviot
Outlying Islands/Iron

Mure and more, Edinburgh's
annual explosion of drama is
having to compete with
major London openings. The
capitals are now fighting
tooth and nail for theatre-
loving tourists. However, the

ballsy spirit of Scotland's
Fringe Fest proves both
fierce and fun. Take La
Divina Commedia,
performed in a circus tent by
Russia's physical troupe
Derevo. This is a wordless
dance of death in a murky
primitive/modern hell.

On one level, it is a
deliberately crowd-pleasing
spectacular featuring gothic
demons, a clowning angel,
and snowstorms of twirling,
glittery paper.

Yet Derevo are also bold
and dark. They look like
prison camp ghosts with
their shaven heads, and their
dreamlike visions are
haunting. A despairing girl in
a night-dress is suspended in
mid-fall, hanging by her toes
from a high ledge above you.
A mocking devil - squatting
in another tower -

. frenetically rubs himself with
straw. Elsewhere, a tortured
naked soul is pushed into the
ring like a sacrificial cow,

with a clanging bell tied to
his tackle. He bucks in
agonies which look
suspiciously like erotic
ecstasies. This could be
dismissed as a calculated
"shocker" - Derevo's
Christian symbolism can be
heavy-handed and the last 10
minutes are a shambles.
Nonetheless, this ensemble's
intensity and ragged beauty -
paired with a pulsing, wailing
soundtrack - grip like a vice.
Over at the pioneeringly
global Garage, The Golden
is experimental fare
from Japan's Company East
(whose Medea thrilled some
critics last year). This time
they dramatise Yukio
Mishima's tale of an
apprentice priest whose
youth is marred by a stutter.

'La Divina Commedia':
Assembly Big Top (0131226
2428); 'The Golden Pavilion':
Garage (01312219009); 'The
Complete Lost Works of
Samuel Beckett...': Assembly
Rooms (01312226 2428);
'Latin!': Gilded Balloon Teviot
(0131226 2151), all to 26
August. 'Outlying Islands'and
'Iron': Traverse (0131228
1404), both to 24 August

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