The Angel and the Woodcutter

A performance undermined by its uneven mixture of charm and brutality

archive review (edinburgh) | Read in About 1 minute
Published 02 Aug 2007

The Angel and the Woodcutter is disarmingly unsophisticated. Telling its story through movement, it is distressing, sentimental, and melodramatic. Accompanied by a score combining oriental instrumentation with excessive synthesizer, it leads a folk tale through the horror of war.

The first act is simplistic and cloyingly childish. In an over-extended comic dumb show, a woodcutter and his mother live happily in the woods. Their idyllic existence ends when the mother captures a passing angel and initiates her into the household and her son’s bed. The angel duly becomes pregnant.

At this point, the woodcutter is conscripted into the Army, leaving the women behind. The mood becomes increasingly dark, the music swells and strains, the performers' facial expressions become more serious. The tableaux are increasingly poetic and evocative and show the angel's dissolution and redemption. After the silliness of the earlier scenes - where any sort of moral perspective or consistency of character was sacrificed for facile humour- the finale is bewildering and affecting.

Despite the stunning impact of the final scenes, the performance is undermined by its uneven mixture of charm and brutality.