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Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Somnambules and the Seven Deadly Sins

Karavan Ensemble

Genre: Physical Theatre

Venue: Summerhall


Low Down

Are you ready for the experiment? Who’s next? Internationally renowned multiple award-winning performers Tanya Khabarova (Derevo) and Yael Karavan (Karavan Ensemble) invite you on an epic voyage into the mysteries of what we are made of, transporting us through archetypes, icons and the ancestors within us. Step into the laboratory for a spectacular journey through astonishing imagery, time and art – a feast for the eyes and mind. ‘Beautiful, extraordinary – a match made in heaven … an intoxicating play between two magnetic performers’. Total Theatre. ‘A dynamic performance that blew everyone away.’ Latest 7 ****


Somnambules by Karavan Ensemble is a radical piece of physical theatre. A dystopian world is created on stage using the bodies of two performers in constant interplay with one another – filling the large, blank stage. Drawing from strict Grotowski and Butoh influences, Karavan Ensemble succeed in creating a powerful and striking audience experience.

Beginning with pulling a performer from the audience also established the company’s playful side, as Yael Karavan jostled to put an audience member in her place and avoid performing. Quickly stripped of her red hair piece and wacky raincoat, Tanya Khabarova seduces Karavan into her laboratory world and with a quick violence, traps her there.

What follows is a series of haunting images; a meditative performance characterized by stark lighting and interplay between fragility and strength. The performance washes over the audience like a dream, without need to question the supposed meanings behind the changing onstage picture. Somnambules is a trance, a nightmarish hallucination containing beauty and horror. The shadow puppetry section is a highlight – the performers transforming into maquette puppets to create a surreal and touching image behind gauze.

Somnambules provides an intense audience experience – it was never really clear exactly what was happening – but confusion aside, the style is so confidently bold and beautiful that this show is a treat. The use of music in Somnambules is transportative; a pounding soundtrack which perfectly complements the performers’ physical style.

The ending is incredible, a total transformation of the space. The performers pull out bin bags stuffed with plastic from the wings and proceed to cover the space and then play in their disgusting landscape. Childlike personas emerge as Karavan and Khabarova costume themselves in junk and drive puppet cars through the debris. After the dreamy show, this ending is sublime.

This show will appeal to anyone who wants an alternative Fringe experience. To audiences who want to seek out the work that will challenge them. Worth seeing for the precision of the physical performances alone.

A haunting and dream-like piece.



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