Four stars

Pity poor Rab McVie, the eternal innocent bystander cast adrift in grubby long johns like some refugee Samuel Beckett character caught in the crossfire of an action painting come to life. As music and performance underscore a virtuoso display of live brushwork projected onto the back of the stage as it is created in real time, Rab watches the world around him with befuddled abandon as it turns to a living hell.

Or at least that is the sense you get in director Maria Pattinson’s production of a collaboration between artist Maria Rud, Edinburgh post punk soothsayers The Filthy Tongues and actor Tam Dean Burn. A loose knit script is drawn from an essay written by Rud four weeks before Russia’s full-scale assault on Ukraine. This is pulsed by a live soundtrack of songs from three Filthy Tongues albums. Throw in translations by former Scots Makar Edwin Morgan of two works by Russian Futurist poet, Velimir Khlebnikov, and a hybrid dramatic collage emerges from the wreckage.

Martin Metcalfe fronts the five-piece Filthy Tongues like some arcane preacher hurling out gothic litanies over a swamptrash voodoo backing. As Rab, Burn resembles a cartoon character that has broken through the screen to contort himself with grotesque abandon through the dystopian nightmare he has been thrust into.

At the heart of all this is Rud’s paintwork, a fast and furious, ever evolving display of battle-torn landscapes that vanish as they are painted over in an instant. While never made explicit, the arrival of Rab McVie on stage a year on from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is significant. The impressionistic collision of creative forces that survive amidst the ongoing destruction elsewhere speaks volumes.