A Brief History of Evil (4 stars)

This article is from 2015

A Brief History of Evil

The bad spirit manifests in physical theatre form

Fitting elegantly into the tradition of sinister yet playful physical theatre, A Brief History of Evil sees Glasgow's Company of Wolves scale down their usual large ensemble to a duo. Two men, smartly dressed, twist painfully through their ambitions to be better, distorting themselves to fit a stereotype. Their banter and bickering covers and reveals deep anxieties and a co-dependent antagonism.

The evil is always present – turning their chatter into arguments – yet the duo have the best of intentions. Their conversations dissolve the boundaries between self-help positivity and arrogance, suggesting their successes (never detailed) are the consequence of their innate brilliance. There's a hint of a pact with a demonic force, interludes of choreographed mania, and an overwhelming sense that the two characters are fighting each other while calling it friendship.

Bullying, the drive to stability, passive aggression and mind games compete to expose the vulnerabilities of the unnamed yet stylish pair. Despite their vigorous verbal violence, they manage to be sympathetic and witty. While this is an abstract work, it allows multiple interpretations of how evil operates, and is charming despite the undertow of horror.

Summerhall, run ended.