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Blood & Roses

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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There's a lot going on here: multiple stories from different times and places, all told through headphones in different locations around Edinburgh's West End. Yet it all blends beautifully into a moving tale of love across continents and ages.

Scottish theatre company Poorboy's audio and installation drama begins at St George's West, where you're allocated an MP3 player and a guide. You soon find yourself walking towards Haymarket station listening to stories of the siege of Leningrad, of blossoming love between a Scottish student and a young Russian man, and of the terrifying mythical witch Baba Yaga. Slowly the tales come together, and a profound questioning of women's roles as mothers, daughters and lovers begins to emerge.

It would be wrong to give away too much about the locations visited, but they are unexpected, and involve fragile, homespun installations by artist Jen Robson that shed new light on the tales you are hearing. It all adds up to a vivid, atmospheric experience that's at once tender and possessed of a flinty strength.

While some of the locations chime perfectly with the audio drama, in others it's not immediately clear why we're there. But that doesn't detract from the magic that the work weaves.

- David Kettle


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