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Anatomy: Finest Cuts

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Four stars

If you believe the elaborate fable told from a storybook between acts during this greatest hits compendium from Edinburgh’s live art cabaret extravaganza, the night’s roots stem from the early 1980s. In their boundary-pushing diversity, some of the acts actually do recall what used to be called alternative cabaret during that era. Either way, the eight bite-size performances culled from the last five years of speak-easy one-nighters revealed Anatomy as key players in the city’s ever fertile artistic underground.

Hosted by Anatomy founders Harry Josephine Giles and Ali Maloney, the show opened Rosa Postlethwaite’s tellingly named Without Whom We Would Not Be Here Tonight. Lewis Sherlock followed with The Undercog, in which Sherlock shadow boxed with funding bodies. In Sanitise, Jordan & Skinner choreographed the domestic excesses of cleaning a toilet with wordless wit, while in Uranus, Moreno Solinas sang arias to illustrate sexual need.

The second half opened with Palimpsest, The Cloud of Unknowing company’s furious anti-consumerist mini explosion of noise, dry ice and crazed choreography. Xelis de Toro calmed things down with Until the Cows Come Home, in which one man in search of himself follows the call of a cow bell.

It was the final two works that were most affecting. It’s Not Over Yet saw Cultured Mongrel Dance Theatre’s Emma Jayne Park act out a bittersweet comic meditation on being diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphona. Finally, in SEX – SEX – SEX, Sara Zaltash gathered some of the audience into a circle for a ritual purging involving Zaltash incanting cut-up lyrics of classic love-lust pop songs in the dark. Illuminated only by body-paint, she pleaded with the audience to discuss and challenge every line. Both performances were fearless examples of a night that dissects body, mind and soul in devastating fashion.

The Herald, May 14th 2018

ends

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