Once... (4 stars)

This article is from 2016


Derevo's revival of cruel love story Once feels timelessly intoxicating

Love has never before hurt quite the way it does in the hands of Derevo. The Dresden-based physical theatre group has become synonymous with a particular kind of gaudy-grotesque, pioneering clown work that has spawned its own Fringe sub-genre. This show first appeared in Edinburgh in 1998 but happily it feels timelessly intoxicating.

In a black and white cubist metropolis, waitress (Elena Yarovaya) has caught the eye of downtrodden clown (Anton Adasinsky); after a tussle with a spectacularly incompetent Cupid we know this isn't going to be an easy ride for the lovers. Indeed the heroic quest Adasinsky embarks on to win Yarovaya's heart is touching in its bathos, monstrous in its cruelty.

From his cringing inability to look at her as he hands her a rose, to the orgy of chaos that erupts when he bares his soul, to the pillory-heart that imprisons him, love in the Derevo world is a degrading, humiliating and confusing business.

You might think that Once... would leave you feeling bleak. But the performers carry such verve and tenderness it's hard not to feel that a broken heart is a fair price to pay for the joy of taking a chance on love.

Assembly George Square Theatre, until 29 Aug (not 15, 22), 11.30am, £12–£14.


  • 4 stars

Derevo Multi award-winning physical theatre company Derevo bring their sold out hit (Fringe First, Herald Angel), a groundbreaking masterpiece of love, longing and laughter. On one rainy day, the lightning of love struck their hearts. The story starts rolling through laughter and tears, past the pessimistic Cupido, the…