4 stars ****
Summerhall (Venue 26)
IT’S VISIBLY inspired by the world of burlesque; and there are echoes, too, of the brilliant magic-realist voice of Angela Carter. Yet as Annie Siddons takes the stage to tell the story of Raymondo, she’s also weaving a completely original 21st century tale of inspiration, exploitation, love and death. With long hair flowing and gorgeous basque tightly laced, Siddons shares the space with guitarist Daniel Green (playing a score by Marcus Hamblett), with her own little harmonium keyboard, and with perhaps 20 glowing table-lamps of varous sizes, all heavily shaded and fringed; the mood is late-night, dusky, sometimes erotically charged.
Yet the story Siddons tells – of her hero Raymondo and his vulnerable younger brother – is all innocence and strangeness, the tale of two boys who escape from a nightmare childhood of want and imprisonment thanks to a magical cloak of their own devising. They wander the world finding and losing love; and finally sell their most precious creation for hard cash, only to find themselves exploited, and worked to the brink of death, by the factory-owner who now also owns their idea.
This is the kind of story, though, in which a single glimpse of love matters more than lifetime of mere survival. And it’s written with a rich, wild and precise poetry that breathes a colossal and sometimes angry humanity, even while its style defies the representation of ordinary human life, and conjures up a world much more magical and strange, poised somewhere between reality and dream, or perhaps between life and death.