Somnambules & the Seven Deadly Sins



La Donna e Mobile



Midnight comes. Midnight goes. But time is of no consequence. The rituals that bind Tourniquet's three pale (and frequently naked) presences together in blood, arcane baptisms and brimstone ecstasies are simultaneously ancient and modern. Human desires will always flirt with dark fantasies, confident of being able to control - or escape - the outcomes. But as we watch Belgian company Abattoir Ferme evoke the deadpan, almost robotic ghosts of a house where decadence reigned, the (unvoiced) mantra is akin to "out, out, damned spot!" - but no amount of blaring, frenetic exorcism can bleach away the stains left by bodily fluids, wine and too much power over other people.

It's messy. Plunges into a downstage bath send murky water everywhere. The two women and one man are regularly stripped, smeared and spattered with blatant gore in pursuit of sexual gratification, or simply in a game of power shifts. The long beam that grinds round in circles, like a millstone anchored centre-stage,will host sacrifices and even rear up like a crucifix, adding to the welter of graphic images created by the soundscore, as much as by the visual staging. But this is a mash-up of mayhem by masters where the sheer stamina of the performers - and director Stef Lernous's ability to mix humour, guignol and echoes of silent film icons, Dietrich and Caligari - send you out into the night, mind twitching at how horror can be so alluringly beautiful.

For many Fringe-goers, the name Tanya Khabarova on a flyer is enough to make the pulse race and the feet run to the nearest box office. Her finesse as a shape-shifter on-stage - be it in capering demonic mode or silently menacing and steely-eyed as a (doubtless mad) scientist - is still as compelling as it was in her days with Russian company Derevo. But Somnambules & the Seven Deadly Sins, a collaboration with Yael Karavan, punches below the weight of their combined talents. There are moments of quite exquisite staging, where the underlying theme of mankind sleepwalking into the destruction of the planet - with those deadly sins consuming Earth's resources - showcases not just the duo's imaginative vision but their command of physical theatre styles. At other times, however, cuteness and sentimentality along with a prolonged onslaught of plastic bags make for unexpectedly dreary watching.

Remote Control Theatre clearly haven't found the off button on their own stream of ideas. Which means that La Donna e Mobile pendulums between sharp, striking episodes that probe the nature - and the internal organs - of female desires and some wildly over-egged scenarios that see the cast of four women rendering their concepts ridiculous, but in ways that miss out on being usefully provocative. For a young company, they have faith in the power of physical theatre to convey serious themes - and do they have energy. Feisty, unstinting buckets of it encourage you to watch, even as they lose what might have been a plot.

All shows run until August 25.