The Scotsman
Mon 9 Aug 2004

Step up to the mirror

Kelly Apter


WITH her white shaven head and hands poking out from her equally white gown and cap, Derevo co-founder Tanya Khabarova looks hauntingly frail. But there is an inner strength buried deep within this delicate Russian creature which makes her a most beguiling performer. Inspired by images of the Creation, Reflection takes us on a journey from birth, through pain and disappointment to the hope of love and beyond. To the sound of a repetitive jazz refrain, Khabarova opens up her suitcase of goodies - candle, book, hammer - and places them, ritual-like, on a table, to create the first of many penetrating images.

A 55-minute solo without words is no mean feat for any performer, but Khabarova has a compelling stage presence and holds us throughout. Stripped of her gown, she moves across the half-lit stage like an arachnid, all sharp elbows and knees. Then, donning all manner of guises from a childlike wig to a sultry black dress and heels, she is a chameleon slipping through characters with a slow, often disturbing insightfulness. As the minutes roll by, the crashing abrasive sounds overhead only add to Khabarova’s delicacy. Easing a pair of wings over her arms, she vainly attempts to fly; eating an apple happily, her face is quickly reduced to pain. The gamut of emotions here is extraordinary. St Petersburg-based physical theatre company Derevo has wowed Fringe audiences on many occasions in the past with its group works. And while Reflection is by no means an easy ride, it will seep into your consciousness long after you’ve left the theatre.

Until 30 August.  

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