Taking place within the tortured mind of the dying composer, the piece intertwines biographical details with their thematic echoes in his last opera; the three riddles of Turandot punctuating the piece like a narrative aria.
Live video is projected onto the stage, sometimes superimposed onto the actors and enhancing the already nightmarish vision created by director Pawel Passini, who also provides narration (in English) from the balcony behind the audience.
Although mindfully obscure and obtuse at times, the whole effect is striking, particularly in the most physically expressive sequences, such as when the actors connect with an explosive physicality, before collapsing into each other in a punch-drunk and bloodstained chorus of Nessun Dorma.
As Puccini faces his end, the individual elements of Turandot intensify into a powerful finale: the deaf signers on either side of the stage provide a mute chorus; the multimedia elements loop relentlessly; and the life-size mannequin of the composer moves through its final acts.
Being both a fascinating exploration of the dying spark of creative genius, and a bold and brave piece of avantgarde theatre, Turandot is an experiment which works.
From 5-28 Aug (not 17) at New Town Theatre at 15:00 – more info here