JOYCE MCMILLAN on THE BEST OF B.E. FESTIVAL at Summerhall, Edinburgh, for The Scotsman 6.11.13. _____________________________________________________
4 stars ****
THE THEATRE programme at Edinburgh’s brilliant new arts lab, Summerhall, has been going from strength to strength this autumn; and on Tuesday night, for one night only, the big Dissection Room seemed like the ideal Edinburgh venue for this year’s touring triple-bill of shows from Birmingham’s annual summer celebration of European theatre – if only because BE looks like a feisty junior version of the international strand of the Edinburgh Fringe that flourishes at Summerhall, every August.
So the evening began with a delicious piece of physical theatre called Al Cubo from Betti Combo of France, a seductive mixture clowning, acrobatics and pure dance involving two men, one glorious female pole-acrobat called Ilaria Senter, and 21 plain white plastic buckets. The struggle with life’s absurdities conjured up in Al Cubo, though, is lightweight stuff compared with the ferocious fight for survival evoked in Hungarian choreographer Ferenc Feher’s ferocious piece for two dancers, Tao Te. Performed by Feher himself and Balazs Szitas, in dark jackets and flaring red kilts, this fierce 40 minutes of movement and sound seems to explore a whole range of masculinities, from the battlefield comradeship of soldiers to the stylised movements of professional boxers, in a blisteringly original piece of dance theatre.
And then finally, there’s Out Of Balanz of Denmark’s Next Door, a delightful piece for two actors, about how the lonely death of an elderly neighbour triggers a flood of childhood memories of the more convivial Copenhagen neighbourhood where writer-performer Ivan Hansen grew up. There’s something slightly soft-edged and old-fashioned about this show’s illustrated-narrative style, which allows Ivan and his Finnish friend Pekka to spend a lot of time playing make-believe like messy little boys. The show makes its point with some force, though, particularly in a beautiful closing sequence; and its mood is so genial that, in the end, its charm is irresistible.