Traverse, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

LET'S put aside notions that "unhinged" necessarily means mad or out of control.

Instead, see it as a process of unlocking constraints and freeing up the imagination and the body. For the two female aerialists from Paper Doll Militia (USA), performing Unhinged adds up to more than slick tricks on the white silks dangling from on high. They themselves look like raggedy paper-white dollies, while the silks are made to billow like sails, knot into cats-cradles or stretch out, like a sheer mountain face that's scaled in a scamper without crampons. All over in 10 minutes - but what a giddy delight those minutes of brinkmanship and artistry were.

Scrapyard Theatre (Scotland), meanwhile, had invited a score or more theatre-makers, visual artists and musicians to take the word 'unhinged' as a stimulus for creating a one-off performance. Participants were divided into four teams, each with an experienced guest artist at the helm during preparatory workshops. With just two weeks to think, devise and deliver a short piece of visual theatre, all four squads probably surprised themselves - and entertained us - with the wit, skill and invention achieved in the process.

Room 124's A as in Hat initially looked flippant: three giggling girlies falling about and ha-ha-ha-ing hysterically while two po-faced wardens looked on. But when the drab observers 'steal' the laughter, and try to mimic the sounds, the piece saddens - not being able to join in and chortle is a lonely business. Mish Mosh, with Al Seed on board, melded paper sculptures, puppetry and shadow-play in rituals of transience for Your Life in Newsprint.

Ripped conjured up echoes of an old-style neighbourhood in Bert and Flo where her death turns Bert into a bird-fancier with a noir twist, while The Kitchen Sink Collective whisked every-day objects into dancing to Mairi Campbell's wayward fiddle tunes and vocalisings. The raw energy and commitment throughout was, in itself, a great response to the challenges of being a part of Manipulate's high-profile programme.