Long Life, The Hub <!-- none onestar twostar threestar fourstar fivestar -->

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The Independent Culture

We all hope for a long life, but perhaps feel some trepidation about it. When so truthfully enacted by five young actors from the New Riga Theatre Company, the idea becomes unsettling.

Long Life is a wordless show - theatrical conceit? - created and directed by Alvis Hermanis. Even so, something may have been lost in translation. With the hall of the International Festival's Hub centre transformed into a sheltered housing block, you enter the lives of two couples and a single man via a claustrophobic, misty corridor. Like their rooms, it's cluttered with the debris of lives whose corners are curled and withered with age. Memories, as well as damp washing, are hung out to dry, worlds reduced to the residents' windowless rooms.

After a cacophony of snores and splutters, a day for this elderly quintet stirs into what might be called life. A monotonous routine of dressing, breakfast and mundane activity unfolds. Each character has his or her recognisable foibles, brilliantly conveyed by the ensemble cast in Hermanis's minutely observed stories of the wobbly-limbed.

It's a stultifying existence, not without humour, though Hermanis seems to have overlooked the fact that old people laugh at the eccentric, creaky personae they have assumed. With the help of a karaoke machine (a cop-out in a wordless play?), another pointlessly busy day passes before these doughty survivors shuffle off this mortal coil.

To 2 September (0131-473 2000)

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