Edinburgh Festival Fringe: When Joseph Brodsky was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1987, it was in honour of his “clarity of thought and poetic intensity”.
Novotel Swimming Pool (Venue 188)
If you were to apply the same criteria to this intriguing tribute to his poetry, directed by Konstantin Kamenski for 274 Company and performed to an audience sitting at the edge of a swimming pool, you’d say it had rather more poetic intensity than clarity of thought.
It looks rather beautiful with its underwater LED lighting, glowing red orbs and floating lights, all backed by video projections taking us on a train journey through 20th century Russian history.
A figure is trapped in a watery cage, while another man, perhaps a doctor in the mental hospital where the young Brodsky was confined, produces black-and-white prints at the pool side. We listen on headphones (Russian and English versions available) to an elliptical interrogation in which numbers have taken the place of names as if in some alienated dystopia.
More thought has gone into the production than is easily picked out. Who are these men? Why are they in a swimming pool? How do the elements relate? Fascinating though it is, it would help to have a clearer route through the material.
Until 27 August. Today 10pm.