THERE is absolutely no-one like Rose English. For those who have never

encountered her, Rose is like the spirit of Gertrude Stein evolved in

the shape of a frustrated ballet dancer, a flamingo on stilts with the

tautological mind of a philosopher-scientist. In the past, Rose has

descended from and ascended in to the flies, worked with children, dogs,

and memorably, last time out, with a magnificent white stallion, in My


But she has surpassed even herself this time. Bearded and dressed like

some 19th-century philosophic guru, she conjures up a piece that is a

divine meditation on, among other things, love, hero-worship,

immortality, memory, identity and the transitory nature of the

theatrical experience itself.

Conjuring is the word, for even whilst Rose's textual meditations are

devising magical moments of alliteration and paradox backed by a trio

playing tango at its most melancholic, so magician Paul Kieve is running

through his repertoire of illusions and tricks and the air is filled

with artists gliding, plunging, or literally seeming to walk on air. The

effect is at once ironic, fantastical, ethereal and deeply moving.

''The souls of the dead are in the drapes of the stage'' cries Rose at

one point summoning up, it seems, the spirits of all those who have gone

before. It is like being at a rather stylish but possibly suspect seance

by a Victorian hypnotist.

* Tantamount Esperance is at Manchester's Contact Theatre from June

23-25. Rose English's My Mathematics is at Edinburgh Festival Theatre in