Imagine Poe and Gogol meeting to get high and dance and you come close to the experience of watching this startling fusion of movement, music and hallucinogenic prose. Dark and surreal, the writings of Henry Michaux were often concocted after a heavy dose of mescaline and his Kafkaesque world of sinister images reveals a restless mind at war with itself.
The adventurous duo, Sinéad Rushe and Jenny Boot, have taken two books of Michaux’s poetry and in a collection of dance scenes have created something equally exotic and vivid. The performers blend their bodies to depict the motion of a saw through a chest, the extraction of tendons from limbs and the spit-roasting of a dinner party guest. When they break, they pick up the connecting thread of a character called Plume who suffers a thousand tortures and humiliations but exacts revenge by imprisoning people in cellars and bags.
If this all sounds a little too warped, then rest assured it is done with the lightest of touches and the scene where the two women imprison themselves in large bags and roll around the stage is brilliantly executed and very witty.
They capture the poetry’s essence in the movement and clever fusion of Irish and jazz music, and bring something of Michaux’s spirit in their appearance; the two pale, waif-like figures would not look out of place in one of Michaux’s paintings. Their wide-eyed look of surprise would suit the absurdist comedy of a Beckett play. There are no exaggerated expressions or mugging; they let their feet do the talking – particularly Rushe, whose manic jig routines are a brilliant cross between Riverdance and Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. The exhaustion of both actors at the end of the play is testament to an exhilarating piece of work which is that rare thing on the Fringe – inventive contemporary dance with provocative subject matter.