Theatre / Kiosk Man - Waterman's Art Centre, London

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The Independent Culture
In the Russian Federation since Perestroika, the proliferation of alternative theatre companies has been almost as extreme as the ubiquitous kiosks, which sell everything from consumer durables to sex. The most accessible of these "underground" companies has been imported for a two- week festival, Hard Currency at Waterman's. It promises to be a rich cultural exchange.

All the performances are experimental in nature, and Kiosk Man more so than others. A collaboration between the St Petersburg-based Terramobile Company and Perpetual Motion from London, it is a self- confessedly ongoing (ie unfinished) interchange of ideas between the two cultures. Nervous directors will often claim to welcome audience feedback, but it takes a Russian - Vadim Mikheenko - to provide sheets of paper on every seat, thereby trans- forming the entire audience into critics.

Kiosk Man opens with a bright-eyed bunch performing an energetic, synchronised rave-style dance to an old Russian pop ballad. Russian youth dancing new steps to an old tune: so far so culturally interesting. Though the title refers intriguingly to the explosion of long-suppressed Russian entrepreneurial spirit, this is a far cry from the social documentary of Klaus Pohl's Waiting Room Germany.

The emphasis of Kiosk Man is on artistic exchange and between more literal scenes - an Englishman finds a pile of rubbish and discovers, to his delight, that Russians will queue up to buy it from him - the emphasis is on something more expressionistic and therefore generalised. Individual actors tell us about their dreams, and physical theatre techniques are quite skilfully employed to communicate suffering, hope, fear etc. Certain performance cliches, however, such as Marcel Marceau's invisible wall make us appreciate the relative sophistication of British alternative theatre.

CLARE BAYLEY

n `Kiosk Man' 10 and 11 Nov only; Hard Currency to 18 Nov. Booking: 0181-568 1176

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