The Edinburgh Fringe
Fringe 2011 Reviews (48)
Company XIV are the stuff baroque dreams are made of. Dipping their poised toes into the fairytale of Pinocchio they have come out with something every bit as dark and dripping with seductive power as their 2008 fringe hit The Judgement of Paris.
Once again director/choreographer Austin McCormick presents us with a bouquet of exquisite dancers, a luminous-voiced soprano and the heady glut of Zane Pihlstroms fine lace, silk and leather costumes, but, just as in Judgement, his dark vision slowly peels back the layers of intoxicating beauty to reveal a disturbing core at the heart of this tale of hollow pleasure seeking.
Jay Donn makes an elegantly awkward Pinocchio, knock-kneed, boundless in energy and beautiful when duetting with the heavenly Laura Careless as the Blue Fairy. But the courtly beauty is unsettled from the outset by little touches the gusto of an imposing leather-clad narrator, the slow sad stride of streetwalkers picking up the dead Blue Fairys body even before Pinocchio hops on the cart to Pleasure Island, a place of distinctly adult pleasures which disappear with a flourish of violence when the money runs out.
Behind what is undeniably a feast of visual and aural treats there seems to be a very dark and very contemporary parallel with the grooming of the vulnerable into exploitation; the image of donkey-boy Pinocchio cowering, too terrified to perform for the islands ringmaster, is truly horrible.
But Company XIVs talent here is to give us something which isnt black and white, where the lines between glamour and seediness, love and desire, gaudiness and real beauty are all a dizzy blur. It is testament to their conjuring that on a stage full of contemporary touches stilettos and short skirts - when the dancers turn, slow and stretched, their flesh picked out by Gina Scherrs warm buttery lighting to the pure crystal of Lauren Michelle Criddles voice it feels as if a painting by one of the great Renaissance masters has come to life.
Anyone seeing this dance theatre piece without reading anything about it in advance will have no more idea about its subject matter at the end than the beginning.
The story that the company fails to expound is that of a Scottish cannibal, Sawney Bean, who lived and ate back in the 16th Century.
The 55 minutes look great at times and the dancers show great control in following the instructions of director and choreographer, Al Seed.
What the five performers are up to after they wriggle from an artificial womb is unclear. They wear kinky clothing and dance and writhe to various styles of music, though the common denominator is a strong drum beat.
The show looks like a cross between an outlandish nightclub and some kind of sex show, with odd flashes of comedy to lighten the mood.
There can be few stage plays that are better suited to the Edinburgh Fringe than this adaptation of Irvine Welsh's modern classic, Trainspotting.
Set in Leith, some of the events take place during the Festival, though close to 30 years ago. This was the era of drugs and AIDS, which made Leith almost as dangerous as Afghanistan, where a character's soldier brother loses his life.
Laurie Toczek's production is held together by a fine central performance from Will Fox as Mark Renton. Not only is his acting convincing but, unlike a number of colleagues, so is his accent.
Rents is a junkie, pure and simple. He leads us through a terrifying netherworld where drama is never far away, whether it stems from death, new addiction, spiked food or lost suppositories. The last of these brings about one of the funniest and most disgusting scenes in drama of recent years.
Fox's best support comes from Kat Tanney in both good and bad times as Alison, though Ian Sharpe ably conveys the fear that addiction and impending death cause in the role of Tommy.
Trainspotting remains powerful and feels very much of the moment, with drugs continuing to be an issue and war still raging in Afghanistan.