Other than the lyrics of some carefully chosen songs, there are no words in TIP Connection's version of Blue Beard's Castle.
But the clothes recruited by this young Finnish company speak volumes, not just as emblematic costuming but as faceless puppets that will eerily suggest the absent wearers.
It opens sweetly with a young Bride skipping onto the darkened stage, a flesh-and-blood bundle of smitten naivety. Her husband-to-be, however, is an expensive-looking blue suit – its size suggests a well-built six-footer – topped by a snappy trilby that stays on, even in bed. That, in itself, should have been a warning sign to our Bride, but it's not until she goes foraging in his wardrobe that a degree of unease sets in. Who wore these lace-trimmed petticoats – all virginally white, like that "morning after" gift to her? And where are these women now?
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The scary twist here is that the Bride seems unconvinced that her own life is in danger. Instead, she – like the resentful "petticoat-wraiths" that four black-clad puppeteers deftly animate – is blinded by love, jealousy, possessiveness. An hour's length is perhaps stretching both this theme and the material invention, but details – like passionately sniffing someone's discarded garments, snuggling into Blue Beard's jacket as if a hug, frantically searching its pockets for unpleasant truths – are unnervingly eloquent.
By the time Leonard Cohen is gravelling his exquisite invitation, 'Dance me to the end of love', the Bride is about to become yesterday's squeeze.
Run ended, but Manipulate's visual theatre festival continues until Saturday