Festival Dance

Cold Blood

King’s Theatre, Edinburgh

Mary Brennan

five stars

Dance means footwork, yes? Not when it comes on-stage - and also on-screen - in Cold Blood. In this wonderfully whimsical, exquisitely crafted production, it’s the performers’ fingers that do the striding, the shimmying, the jetés and more, that choreographer Michèle Anne de May and film-maker Jaco Van Dormael have woven into vignettes about seven very untoward deaths. Does this sound grim? Grimm even? There are echoes, in Thomas Gunzig’s text, of the gruesome ends that befall the unwary, or the foolishly wilful, in many a fairytale. But there is also something poetically wistful about the images that flood the mind at death’s threshold - and it is this fleeting inner realm that Cold Blood’s ‘danses macabres’ bring so vividly, and often humorously, to life. And though each mise-en-scene is enacted in miniature, and then streamed simultaneously onto a huge cinema screen - you can see both in parallel action - the whole concept and execution is richly detailed on an impressively epic scale.

The nimble fingers of Gregory Grosjean, Gabriella Iacono and de May herself cut such persuasive capers that our eyes, and our imaginations, are beguiled into seeing recognisable humanity going about its daily business. A wrist strolls through a meticulously realised city-scape, gets behind the wheel of a car, slithers its fingers through a salacious pole-dancing routine. When the tiny set conjures Hollywood art deco fabulousness, the fingers don thimbles and it’s Fred and Ginger going into their tap-dance: pure genius-mischief,as is the sly take on Bejart’s iconic Boléro. Finally, David Bowie’s Space Oddity ushers in an achingly poignant witness to mankind’s space-age aspirations and our transient fragility. Breath-taking,affecting, magical. An unseen voice had initially ‘hypnotised’ us asleep. Its final “Three, two, one” supposedly wakens us back to life. Oh how you yearn to dream again, with the visionary Kiss and Cry Collective.