Derevo - Harlekin (4 stars)

This article is from 2010

Derevo - Harlekin

Sinister, beautiful show from Fringe favourites

You never quite know where you are with Derevo. The 80 minutes of Harlekin somehow fly by, aided in part by the trio’s willingness to hop around theatrical styles from dance to commedia dell’arte, from mime to psychological terror. It’s apt that such genre-bending should occur, given the harlequin’s history of being an acrobat, an assassin and someone who gets food thrown in their face. At the curtain call, the official moment for which appears uncertain for both the audience and, seemingly, performers alike, leader Anton Adasinsky is the picture of calm, his fingers sliding across a lute before casually waving to his crowd.

Contrast this with the whirling dervish who has jerked, gyrated and flopped across and onto the stage over the past hour and 20, accompanied by the beguiling Elena Iarovaia – whose roles include an organ-grinder’s monkey and the woman who, quite literally, takes her lover’s heart – and Tanya Khabarova, the stumbling host and puppeteer whose first act is to peek through the curtain at an imaginary audience on the other side of the stage and away from us.

It’s a neat, discombobulating touch which is bolstered by delightful details such as Adasinsky doubling for a shower, CD player and bath towel. But this being Derevo, there are moments which might revisit you in a tense nightmare, the sight of Adasinsky seemingly poisoned over and over again or attached to a wide bar/crucifix which swings over the front row’s heads. And you find you are keen to remove your eyes from the occasionally manic smile of the bald Iarovaia; in your darker thoughts, the pair might bring to mind Crispin Glover and Anne Heche during her alien abduction period.

The sinister and the beautiful have been Derevo’s trademarks ever since their Edinburgh debut in 1997 with Red Zone, and Harlekin provides another memorable chapter in their captivating story.

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


  • 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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