Caesarean Section – Essays On Suicide
5 stars *****
Summerhall (Venue 26)
IT BEGINS with the sound of smashing glass, clattering through the pitch dark of a black theatre tent at Summerhall; and when the light begins to return, the broken glass is being swept into a narrow, glittering trench of jagged fragments that runs like a river through the centre of the show. There are more than a dozen Polish stage companies in Edinburgh this year, all of them capable of generating both stunning images and serious thought. In the sheer beauty and purposefulness of their images and music, though,the Grotowski-inspired Teatr Zar of Wroclaw seem to take Polish theatre into a whole new dimension of feeling and eloquence.
In Caesarean Section, first seen in Italy and Poland five years ago, Teatr Zar’s subject is suicide; the untimely ripping of young people out of life, and also the forces of love or fellow-feeling that can snatch them back from the brink. No theme speaks more directly to this year’s central Fringe preoccupation with lost, distressed and self-destructive young people; and in this show, it is supported by the most astounding and beautiful musical score, co-ordinated by director Jaroslav Fret with Mariana Sadovska, all sung and played live on stage by three performers and seven singer/musicians, and based on Corsican polyphonic songs, mixed with material from Bulgaria, Romania, Iceland and Chechnya, and with the piano music of Erik Satie.
If the music is unforgettable, though, it’s no more powerful than the images, reflected in scene-titles like Suicides’ Catwalk, My Body A Tear, and Dream: Miscarriage. There’s a recurring motif of spilt wine and spilt blood, a floor full of rolling oranges, juicy and almost red; some stunning movement, and a flawless integration of the music into the action. And at the end, the audience is conscious of having seen a fiercely contemporary show, powered by a deep and magnificent sense of tradition; as well as a raw essay in pain which also fully acknowledges the beauty and intensity of life, drawing us back towards it, even in our darkest hours.
Until 20 August