Centrefold / Kaos theories: Doctor Faustus incorporating Japanese Butoh and the dance of darkness

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Xavier Leret was stage managing a touring show when he overheard Phil Morle, the founder of Kaos Theatre, talking about Grotowski, the Polish father of 'poor theatre' whose theories aimed to transform the actor-audience relationship. Leret was so impressed, he grabbed him and demanded an audition. Just over a year later, he's running the show. But what is this company with the idiosyncratic show-titles - The Kaos Hamlet, for example, The Kaos Medea or even The Kaos Tell-Tale Heart?

Founded in 1991, the group's approach always began with research into performance techniques from around the world, though its productions are visceral and spectacular, anything but dry and theoretical. The performers in the current production of Marlowe's Doctor Faustus display a cornucopia of international techniques, from Odin Teatret in Denmark, Gardzienice in Poland, Philippe Gaulier in Paris to the Divas, dance theatre company. Not content with this, Leret describes the inspiration of Japanese Butoh on the work.

'Butoh is described as a dance of darkness,' he explains. 'We use it as a starting-point, a way of finding a pre-expressive way of working.' Leret would give his performers a series of images for which they would have to find a gesture or a movement: 'breath on an old man's beard', 'a rock being flung out of a volcano', or 'the death of a child'. Marlowe's text is superimposed on top of the movement.

The Kaos Tragical History of Doctor Faustus is a 12-month project of three productions exploring the nature of morality. 'Doctor Faustus is a pretty good resume of what philosophical morality was like 500 years ago,' says Leret. 'The next piece, Virtual Morality, will be about the nature of good and evil, with the performers working blindfold. Ikon will rely on what comes out of the first two pieces, and will bring it all together, attempting to find a place for morality on stage'.

'The Kaos Tragical History of Doctor Faustus' at the Bridewell, Bride Lane (off Fleet St), EC4 (071-936 3456) 25 Jul-6 Aug

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