Performance

Rules of the Moon

Leith Theatre, Edinburgh

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Neil Cooper

four stars

"HOW does it end?" are the first and last words spoken by playwright and poet Rebecca Sharp in this spectral collaboration with composer Philip Jeck, that fuses storytelling and projections with Jeck's electronically generated soundscape. The pair's contribution to this year's Hidden Door festival charts the fantastical flight of Mary Christie, a young girl in a red jumper who runs away from a fire and goes deep into the darkness, both of the city and her own psyche.

It begins with the seeming innocence of a music box melody and projections of what turns out to be a 60 watt bulb. As Sharp's live words are punctuated and overlaid with recordings of her voice, her initially fractured poetry is given a more linear narrative pulse as we follow Mary into the night. Along the way, there are stolen cars, cracked electronics and images of a luminous blue night sky that lend an eerie urgency to an increasingly dream-like after-dark yarn.

Initially inspired by a real-life childhood memory, what drives Sharp's young protagonist on the run appears to come from the skies, as she keeps on moving. This contrasts with the stillness of the performance, with Jeck seated behind a laptop at the side of the stage and Sharp stepping to the microphone sporting a red jumper of her own as she reads. While the piece itself would work equally well on the page, on record or in the cinema, seeing and hearing all this in Leith Theatre's main auditorium gives proceedings an even darker atmosphere. As for Mary Christie, she continues to move like quicksilver whatever, still chasing the fire within.