POP-UP Duets (fragments of love)

National Museum of Scotland

Five stars

The Troth

Army@the Fringe, Hepburn House, East Claremont Street

Four stars

Mary Brennan

MID-AFTERNOON in the Museum, people everywhere. A young couple are exchanging glances and then, in the blink of a glad eye, they’re dancing. There’s magnetic attraction in the way they move: at ease with the caress of a hand, a close entanglement of limbs – it must be love. So how come we subsequently see him (Albert Garcia) in a tense duet with another woman (Joanne Pirrie) and the body language suggests they have a relationship history. Other superbly nuanced duets emerge elsewhere, with Amy Hollinshead and Valerio Di Giovanni the other parties involved, offering glimpses of how personality, sexual identity, emotions, degrees of intimacy, can alter in the arms of another – perhaps same-sex – love. Janis Claxton’s consummately-crafted choreography, first seen here in 2016, continues to surprise and delight as does Pippa Murphy’s score. These bijou fragments – sometimes playful, sometimes torrid, sometimes tinged with secret longings – truly catch at your heart: and like unconditional love, it’s for free.

Love unrequited, but abiding unto death, is the heartbeat of The Troth, choreographed by Gary Clark for Akademi. Set in the First World War, and based on a Hindi short story (from 1915), this vividly affecting piece brings the battleground centre-stage even as archive film shows Sikh soldiers in the midst of actual conflict. If the dramatic impact of this is intense, the performances unstintingly shade in the emotional maelstrom that besets the main characters. The exquisitely pliant Vidya Patel (Leela) anguishes fearfully for her son and her husband at the Belgian front, while Subhash Viman Gorania (the love-struck Lehna Singh) keeps his fatal promise to protect them with an unwavering dignity. This is forgotten history made flesh and blood in dance. Lest we forget? This production will linger as an evocative aide-memoire.