Edinburgh International Conference Centre
Eighty year old Polish composer and playwright Boguslaw Schaeffer was too ill to attend this rare compendium of greatest hits performed by some of the avant-garde polymath’s longest serving collaborators. Fun, however, was had by all. As the audience move down the EICC’s escalators actors cavort on the rails and a man with no trousers pads about like a mischievous penguin. Video projections are beamed live on an array of screens inside the auditorium, in which the audience are arranged around a series of stages for an anarchic variety show of dissonance and slapstick.
First up is the Olga Szwajgier Jazz Quartet, featuring Szwajgier’s remarkable range of vocal trills backed by piano, bowed bass and a percussionist who at one point slaps his own head as accompaniment. Soloist Urszula Dudziak loops her own voice to devastating effect. The fourteen-strong Polish National Radio Orchestra conducted by Agnieszka Duczmal then invade the space with an extended series of string-based clusters that revel in an atonal stew.
By this time the mischievous penguin has recovered his trousers and four actors finally move centre stage to perform A Multimedia Thing, Schaeffer’s manic self-reflexive play in which two male and two female performers bicker ferociously in a dementedly arch fashion before passion gets the better of them. By the end, art, life, sex and death have merged in what looks like a furious sketch show in a glorious cacophony of joy.
The Herald, August 23rd 2010