Under the arches of an old Welsh chapel, beaked angels sing to a little lost girl. Inspired by ancient folklore and performed through psychedelic multimedia, this Russian-UK collaboration is a wild, radically uneven ride that believes in the power of magic and the strength of imagination.
Enormous stretches of gauze fill the gaps of the beautiful, crumbly building. Behind them, our cast are part shrouded in near-constant hallucinatory projections. The first half of this show, created by Inna Dulerayn, has utter clarity in its strangeness. The story moves gently between a young girl (Edyta Budnik) reading from her diary – plain, clear prose about being bullied at school and escaping to the magical land of Mythosphere v and interludes of opera from the angelic birds who live there.
While the pace needs switching up, there is much that amazes: the creatures’ costumes, with gorgeous ribbed cloaks and glittering wings, outfits so solid they’d stand up by themselves; the eerily beautiful video; the sublime singing, particularly Sam Kipling’s stunning falsetto.
But in the much longer second half, the former restraint breaks apart. The show loses much of its coherence, the videos veer obnoxiously off-piste, the singing is abandoned, and uncomfortable views about mental illness are rattled off. Nothing connects, and it starts to feel interminably long.
The saving grace of this act is our new narrator, Lucienne Deschamps. Curled up in front of her television, she tells us about the slow rhythm of her days, of coffee mornings and mercurial cupcakes. In her deadpan mundanity, Deschamps is cacklingly funny. But the show around her dulls and drags.
Underneath the chaos, this is a heartfelt story of a girl telling stories to escape the real world. It’s just disappointing there’s so much else in the way.
At Stone Nest, London, until 9 October.