Derevo bring 'real theatre' back to Edinburgh Fringe with Harlekin

This article is from 2010.

Derevo bring 'real theatre' back to Edinburgh Fringe with Harlekin

Fringe favourites return – and this time it’s war!

‘We just enjoy being in a city where there are more street artists than pedestrians,’ says Anton Adasinskiy, director, performer and founder member of Derevo, one of the most lauded companies to come to the Fringe in the last decade, on his decision to return. ‘When I mentioned “Maybe we should go to Edinburgh again?” everyone started screaming “YEEEEEE!”’

Perhaps a slightly less dignified response than one would expect from a pack of Butoh-inspired Russian performance artists with a reputation for creating taxing, beautiful and unique theatre, but early signs from camp Derevo are that Harlekin may be a very different type of show. It’s their first Fringe since 2006’s multi award-winning Ketzal (although they’ve become regular visitors to Glasgow’s Arches in that time), and they’ve pared back the cast to just three founder members of the company: Adasinskiy, Tanya Khabarova and Elena Yarovaya.

‘The process has been very different this time,’ says Adasinskiy. ‘It’s easy to work when your partners understand you from the first sigh or move, and Harlequin came into being inexplicably. No-one anticipated that this old-time romantic story involving the Lute, the Monkey, the Princess and the foxy Harlequin himself to appear after the mythical and carneous Ketzal.’

Derevo’s Harlequin is not the diamond-patterned mute of the Commedia d’ell Arte, but an earlier incarnation inspired by Dante’s demon Arlechinno. Adasinskiy describes it as ‘the role I have waited all my life for.’ However, when asked to explain further, he just states that ‘Harlekin is dedicated to Real Theatre. It comes out of our desire to go to war against those who pull sex, politics, violence or plain newspaper leads onto the stage, wasting other people’s time and money.’

To summarise, then: Derevo, back, and declaring war on at least half of the Fringe programme. Perhaps they haven’t changed that much after all.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 7–30 Aug (not 9, 16, 23), 1pm, £12–£14. Previews until 6 Aug, £9.


  • 4 stars

If God and the Devil were playing chess, Harlequin would be the chessboard. Following the success of the 'heavy metal' 'La Divina Commedia', and the epic 'Ketzal', the legendary dance-Dada-mime-Butoh-theatre-clowning troupe from St. Petersburg springs its latest surprise on the Fringe...the 'Harlekin'! Under 'occupation…

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