Origins review at Zoo Sanctuary, Edinburgh – ‘committed but conventional’

Cast of Origins Cast of Origins
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The first fratricide is given a rather flat treatment in Animikii Theatre’s Origins, a physical theatre retelling of Cain and Abel.

Bare-chested brotherly badinage is nimbly done by both performers, who bound over a sacrificial altar with puppyish energy, grunts and guffaws. There’s a touching moment of tenderness too when the pair loll casually and hum in harmony.

Judiciously numinous lighting enhances the devout duo’s stargazey quality and the geographical suggestion of an ancient sun-bleached land, capped by a cavernous celestial ether.

However, the actors eschew dialogue and without the dancerly technique to elevate their work to suggestive metaphorical heights, the piece seems unfortunately stuck in an expressive middle ground, unable to root around in religious orthodoxies for unexpected theatrical truffles.

Instead Origins registers as a kind of wordless yet literal religious education lesson with touches of rave lighting and portentous drumbeats. There’s little wandering in the Land of Nod but occasionally Abel relinquishes his fraternal role to minister to Cain in a diabolical fashion while clad in a crimson cape complete with a pointy hood. Much agonised jiggling ensues.

Eden’s apple also gets a predictable starring role: the pesky Biblical Braeburn is munched upon to reveal a disappointingly conservative core.

Committed but conventional take on the story of Cain and Abel features atmospheric lighting