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Embrace

Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh
Three stars
If you go down to the woods any night this week, you're in for a
big-ish surprise with this new show from Vision Mechanics, which
promenades its way after dark en route to some ecologically inclined
Shangei-la. With the audience gathered in groups of twenty or so, the
show's director and creator Kim Bergsagel and her trusty sidekick lead
the throng to an Occupy style camp-site where they introduce us to the
wisdom of an enlightened fellow traveller before we're encouraged to
eavesdrop on the conversations going on inside the tents. Depending on
where you're coming from, these sound either like heated debate or out
and out bickering in what looks and sounds like a pastiche of
grass-roots activism.

With a police bust imminent, we're led down assorted paths, where a
film by Robbie Thomson uses shadow puppetry and Ewan Macintyre's
eastern-tinged backwoods soundtrack to tell the story of the show's
inspiration, Amrita Devi. In 1730 Devi was beheaded for preventing the
chopping down of trees by hugging them, influencing a similarly
inclined 1970s movement. Beyond this, assorted Indian dancers and
aerialists dressed as day-glo clad sprites run wild and free while neon
signs and voices in headphones preach the evils of technology.

As illuminating a call to arms as such back-packer philosophy is,
there's an irony in the  fact that without the headphones and hi-tech
rig, Vision Mechanics' team of son et lumiere magicians would not have
been able to reconstruct the Gardens' after-dark landscape in such an
atmospheric fashion. It is this multi-media approach that conversely
transports the performers and Bergsagel's brand of environmental
story-telling back to nature with a meditative flourish.

The Herald, October 10th 2014

ends

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