Invisible Lands

five stars

Sleeping Beauty

four stars

Traverse, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

Even when the soundscore of Invisible Lands - presented by Livsmedlet Theatre (Finland) - is raging with helicopter gunships, there is a calm, methodical feel to the way Sandrina Lindgren and Ishmael Falke strip down and turn their naked flesh into the vast territories that lie between fleeing refugees and distant safety. Both performers know the true story they’re about to recreate is a harrowing one: there’s no need for gratuitous histrionics. Soon the refugees - represented by life-like miniature figures - are straggling up a sharply-inclined shin towards the summit of a knee. The astutely posed visual imagery is compelling. Human limbs shift and stretch. New terrains - an arm, a foot, a back - unfold, and the journeying numbers dwindle. Not everyone makes it onto the boat that is then storm-tossed on Lindgren’s blue-painted belly... Close-ups of some tableaux are occasionally projected, and at one point the couple themselves take to running pell mell - near-naked, with no possessions - in a reminder that the migrants’ panic and vulnerability is a matter of flesh and blood. When Lindgren gets dressed again, those landscapes become invisible - but hopefully not forgotten by those who see this extraordinarily powerful piece.

Though Colette Garrigan is now based in France, her solo show Sleeping Beauty - presented by Compagnie Akselere (France) - is set in her native Liverpool where hard times make believing in happy-ever-after fairy-tales a truly grim challenge. But Garrigan’s wee Princess harbours romantic hopes that sustain her through an abusive childhood until a 16th birthday encounter with a (heroin-laden) needle proves well-nigh fatal. Garrigan’s vividly evocative narrative weaves in clever references to familiar fairy-tales alongside instances of everyday poverty and grotty living conditions. She also deftly back-lights everyday objects - forks, toast racks, bottles - creating scary silhouettes and gothic shadow-play. It’s a triumph of imagination and craft, a real highlight of this year’s Manipulate.