Tatyana, Edinburgh Playhouse, Edinburgh


Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Brazilian choreographer Deborah Colker is known for her work with huge and perilous sets.

She’s at it again with Tatyana, a retelling of Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin. Playing multiple versions of the central characters, her dancers clamber over Gringo Cardía’s stylised wooden tree or plunge to the stage in death-defying drops.

The soundtrack is a taped patchwork, from Tchaikovsky to work by music director Berna Ceppas. Colker cuts all the supporting roles, leaving just the four lovers. A handful of Tatyanas write the famous love letter to Onegin, waving a quill pen or using it to write imaginary words on their own bodies. Colker adds a figure of Pushkin, and dances him herself, sharing the role with Dielson Pessoa. They push and manipulate the characters, or rage at the story itself.

For all the acrobatics, the characterisation is thin. No matter how many women dance them, there’s little contrast between bookish Tatyana and flirty Olga. The older, more sophisticated Tatyana appears on pointe – but it’s hard to show much self-possession in these manhandling duets. The dancers drive themselves through the athletic steps, fearless and frenetic.

Until 14 August. Box office 0131 473 2000