City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Teddy and Topsy Review

By Vivien Devlin - Posted on 08 August 2010

Show details
Adam House
Inside Intelligence
Running time: 
Robert Shaw (writer, director), Jessica Wiesner (designer), Jack Knowles (lighting)
Anna-Marie Paraskeva (Isadora)

The American dancer Isadora Duncan is perhaps remembered for her tragic early death aged 50 in 1927 in a freak accident. Taken for a drive in a Bugatti racing car in Nice, Cote d’Azur, she threw her silk scarf glamorously over her shoulder which then caught in the wheel spokes, breaking her neck. Isadora is also world renowned for her pioneering, feminist, artistic creativity in the development of the art of contemporary dance.

She was born in San Francisco in 1877, and from early childhood she would run along the beach and sway her arms to express the movement of ocean waves, later going on to perform and teach dance classes throughout America and Europe. A crucial meeting took place in December 1904 when Edward Gordon Craig, (English actor, producer, director and scenic designer, the son of actress Ellen Terry) came to see her perform in Berlin and was enraptured and inspired by her unconventional, modern, theatrical expression. This was, in essence, a marriage of true, artistic minds.

This one-woman play by Robert Shaw, explores their eccentric love affair conducted mainly by letter in between brief encounters as she travelled and danced her way around France, Russia, Germany and Italy. Scantily dressed in her trademark white, flowing Grecian tunic, the slender, supple Anna-Marie Paraskeva glides barefoot across the stage, interpreting Isadora’s classic poses and free-spirited dance style.

Her letters to her beloved Teddy are romantic and poetic, describing people and places, returning from “the land of snow and ice, I think I discovered the North Pole …. now I’ll see you, you, you.” …. “ I have every letter, card, ticket, ribbon, you gave me.” There are other episodes of dark jealousy when Ted comments on her hysteria, while she is aware of him looking at other women in Venice.

For those unfamiliar with Isadora’s life and her relationship with Craig, a few key biographical facts and figures would have been helpful to set the scene in an introductory narrative or programme note.

Linking the series of letters, a seamless selection of music carries the drama along like rolling waves, complemented by neat, fluent choreography. Anna-Marie is not only an enchanting, very watchable dancer, she also captures Isadora’s quick changing moods and personality from moments of idyllic happiness to heartache, with a sense of her passionate, obsessive love. This is a performance of natural elegance, femininity and grace.

Til 30 August (not 17, 24), 4.15pm