Edinburgh festival review: Chagal Chagal

The Belarus artist Marc Chagall died in a lift, half way between the earth and sky: an appropriate place for a visionary inspired by ideas of flight. Other influences were memories of his Jewish upbringing in his hometown of Vitebsk.

In this affecting piece from the Belarus State Theatre, Chagall's final moments are recreated in a welter of images, fragments of dreams and half forgotten phrases. As his life slips away he returns to its beginnings.

In some ways this show should be entirely inaccessible for a British audience. It is performed in Belarussian, the synopsis is no great help, and it assumes that everyone is familiar with Chagall's work. But it works, not least because its spare, measured, distinctly eastern European modernist style is tempered by the welling emotion of Jewish folk memory and dance.

Not knowing what is being said means that you end up relating to the piece on an imagistic level. Tables transform into picture frames, whitewashed buildings fly across the air, Chagall's lovers, family and rivals metamorphose like ghosts in faded photos or old paintings, captured forever at that moment when the past meets the future and which is now lost forever.

• Till Saturday. Box office: 0131-228 7555.


Lyn Gardner

The GuardianTramp

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