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Festival theatre

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

Ganesh Versus the Third Reich

Royal Lyceum

Keith Bruce

Scottish theatre has a fine track record of work that involves and includes people perceived to have disabilities, with companies like Lung Ha's and Birds of Paradise in the front rank, but we have seen nothing quite like Australia's Back to Back Theatre, whose short EIF run is an ensemble piece teaming four company regulars - Mark Deans, Simon Laherty, Scott Price and Brian Tilley - with guest artist David Woods, from Scotland's Perth and founder of co-director of performance group Ridulusmus.

The story the company are telling is of an imagined quest by the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesh, overcomer of obstacles, to retrieve the ancient Sanskrit swastika symbol from Hitler and his associates, most notably Josef Mengele of Auschwitz concentration camp. This is, self-evidently, dangerous territory, but Back to Back's artistic director Bruce Gladwin and his company shy away from nothing, challenging every liberal or reactionary preconception about mental health, disability, censorship and the Holocaust.

The show displays the highest production values, with the layers of transparent curtains and shadowplay suddenly snapping into focus with superb lighting and projections, dialogue switching between English, Sanskrti and German, and a truly wonderful soundscore from composer of the moment Johann Johannsson. They are the company's reward to an audience that must be prepared to be challenged.

Run ends tomorrow

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