New Stages

The Feast During the Plague BAC, London
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Pushkin's parable of the zombie feast held by the survivors of a plague town is revitalised by the Clod Ensemble. This ragamuffin lot gang up against the Grim Reaper by drowning their fears at the table of a dead friend in singing, dancing and copulating; and shun deathcart, priest and the dancing corpses. There is not a faint-hearted performance in the cast of eight and their improvisations are mesmerising. Jason Thorpe, a considerable comic talent, both offends and delights as the japester who exposes a bum cheek in the face of death.

The words, translated by Anthony Wood, are stirring, but the piece is made by the string / wind orchestra. The rhythms percuss from hysteria to ecstasy, abject fear to abandonment, ending on an intractable note of grief. Paul Clark's brilliant score juggles the melodies of folk, Bartok, Schnittke and Warner Brothers for a surreal, out-of-time effect