Russian Company Derevo’s Once takes place early in the morning by Fringe standards and many of the audience members at the George Square Theatre might have been wondering whether they’d woken up yet. The show follows the fluid logic of an unsettling dream: one in which zombies, Mexican Banditos and eight foot tall two-headed pierrots wander unaccountably across the stage and where a simple length of pipe can become a paddle, a walking stick and a functioning gun in quick succession. The show dives ever deeper the abyss of its own subconscious.

The show’s effectiveness depends on whether you can stomach its deliberate unruliness

There is a plot, of sorts, which occasionally bubbles into striking lucidity amongst all the chaos. This involves company founder Anton Adasinsky’s lowly, street-sweeping clown, a sort of predecessor to Chaplin’s tramp, and his desperately adoration of a melancholic Pierette-waitress (Elena Yaravoya). He is competes for her affections with a sinister Svengali figure in a tailcoat. More than anything, however, the show aims to capture a mood- of the turbulence and baffling, uninterpretable nature of intense love, of its failure to yield into a coherent identity, place or time.

While there is no doubting the quality of the performances - Adasinsky is a world renowned clown and the expressive depth of the strangely ageless Yaravoya’s face is breathtaking - the show’s effectiveness depends on whether you can stomach its deliberate unruliness, the rush of images which rarely settle down or explain themselves. The manic eclecticism is visible within the design influences that are legible in the show: surrealist art, silent cinema and even modern science fiction all compete amongst each other, and this zaniness may prove too much for some.

The chaotic sensibility also acts, frustratingly, to puncture some charming moments of poised tranquility in which the physical skill of the performers finds its richest expression. The clown’s bashful, stuttering advances towards his lover, Yaravoya’s intense eyes gazing wistfully at us, or what looked like the beginnings of a silent dance lesson are all interrupted and swallowed up by noise and confusion. More of these simpler, tender moments would have made this already interesting show soar.

Reviews by Joe Spence


The Harry and Chris Show

Assembly George Square Gardens


Underbelly, Cowgate

Lucy McCormick: Triple Threat

Traverse Theatre

Daffodils (A Play With Songs)

Just the Tonic at The Mash House

Naz Osmanoglu: Exposure


Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £1.7m to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now



The Blurb

Multi award-winning physical theatre company Derevo bring their sold out hit (Fringe First, Herald Angel), a groundbreaking masterpiece of love, longing and laughter. On one rainy day, the lightning of love struck their hearts. The story starts rolling through laughter and tears, past the pessimistic Cupido, the elegant evil, past silly death to the unknown end... A fairy tale dedicated to the eternal child living in us all. 'Bravo, Derevo, for reminding us that it's better to be heartbroken than heartless' (Herald). 'Absolutely stunning... the best of the best' (Scotsman). 'A love song to your soul' (List).

Most Popular See More


From £21.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Grease the Musical

From £20.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Moulin Rouge! The Musical

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Matilda the Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £15.00

More Info

Find Tickets