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Cold Blood at King’s Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘Exquisitely clever show with dancing fingers’

Scene from Cold Blood at King's Theatre, Edinburgh. Photo: Ryan Buchanan

Cold Blood is something truly special. Like Kiss and Cry Collective’s eponymous first show, which was also the brainchild of film-maker Jaco Van Dormael and dancer-choreographer Michele Anne De Mey, it stars dancing fingers, filmed live onstage amid intricately detailed miniature models.

There are moody cityscapes, cloudy vistas, foggy highways, even applause-inducing sets-within-sets, with kaleidoscopic visual effects created by various combinations of water, coloured powders, mirrors and lighting.

Never before have feather dusters attached to a couple of cordless drills been so inventively deployed. The resulting footage is beamed on to a big screen, with musical accompaniment and recorded narration (Thomas Gunzig’s tender and witty words read by Toby Regbo).

While the company’s first show traced lost love, Cold Blood is about seven unusual and occasionally “stupid” deaths, with expirations caused by the likes of a swallowed bra clasp, a car-wash mishap (that’s where the feather dusters come in) and a pre-prepared packet of mashed potato.

For all the show’s intricate cleverness and darkly humorous treatment of death, it’s far from cold or slickly facile. There are moments of heart-stopping beauty: a row of six hands emerge to airily embroider phrases of a Schubert string quartet, plucking and pulling at empty space, dancing out of the darkness like fleshy fireflies. A Busby Berkeley tap routine, featuring fingertips wearing thimbles, is exhilaratingly crafted and deftly performed.

Somehow, the onstage exposure of artifice only enhances the sense of wonder – that curious, ineffable and communal quality of live theatre at its best.

Exquisitely clever, funny and moving mixed-media show featuring dancing hands

Production Information

Cold Blood
King's Theatre
August 4, 2018
August 6, 2018
Thomas Gunzig (text)
Jaco Van Dormael, Michele Anne De Mey
Jaco Van Dormael, Michele Anne De Mey
Ivan Fox, Stefano Serra
Nicolas Olivier
Boris Cekevda
Tristan Galand (camera), Aurelie Leporcq (camera assistant), Thomas Dobruzskes (technical corordinator), Thomas Van Cottom (tour manager)
Cast includes
Michele Anne De Mey, Gregory Grosjean, Gabriella Iacono, Toby Regbo
Mars, Mons Arts de la Scene
Running time
1hr 15mins