Birds Eye View, St Stephens

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The Independent Culture

There I was, thinking that dance on the Fringe seems to have improved, that is until I found myself watching Blue Is My Colour. This is the daft story of an inept office worker seduced by a mermaid after his boyfriend has been drowned. The puerile text, dreary songs and banal movement are unutterably boring.

What a relief after that to find Birds Eye View. This is vastly entertaining from the very beginning, when you see the moon with films projected on it of women dancing on the wings of an antique biplane. And if the "moon'' later proves to be a spherical gas balloon complete with hanging basket, that's typical of the whole, where nothing is what if first appears.

The five dancers, from Do-Theatre in Russia, do everything with an eccentric twist. They don't walk normally, dress normally or even sing normally when homeland memories impel them to serenade us. When a woman plays her accordion, no sound emerges; you hear it only while she is not playing.

As the dancers repeatedly return in new guises, characters emerge, not sustained because everyone takes on multiple personalities, but some of the figures do recur, or intriguing variants upon them. Who dances better, the Samurai with his sword or the seemingly legless little chap bundled into a bomber jacket? Similarly, certain apparently chaotic patterns of movement recognisably return.

The patter of the work is a hilarious refusal to conform, and curiously all this nonsense adds up to a kind of subliminal sense. Would you shave your head with your sword? This guy does, rather fetchingly, after a woman has anointed his pate with cream.

Why do the three women suddenly start crying, and why does that just as suddenly turn to laughter? There is a dance in the dark for hand-held torches and here is a woman flying paper aeroplanes (the good old cut and fold pattern) into the audience.

I haven't yet mentioned the white feathers scattered all over the floor, or others that emerge from handbags or even from inside the accordion. What about the seagulls hanging overhead? And the soundtrack at one point giving instructions for our flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle.

If it sounds mad, it probably is, and yet there is a kind of lunatic logic to it all. And the performers give it all a kind of crazy conviction. Consequently, there is never a dull moment. And as it goes on, the pretended nonsense does more than amuse; it begins to take on a real point.

The feeling I was left with is that there's no longer any need to send another space mission to the Moon. We can see what life there is like just by watching these mad antics (isn't that where the word lunatic comes from?) but I'm in danger of making it sound serious, and it's not like that at all; it's just sheer non-stop joy for over an hour. And how often do we experience that?