Sacred And Profane’s stated aim is to produce ensemble theatre adapted from literary or folk traditions, using live music and live digital devices. That all sounds rather dry, even pompous, as does the statement that this production is a meditation on fate, free will, and the frontier between spirituality and hysteria. Sack the PR guy because this is anything but dull and pompous, and is perhaps the finest acting I’ve seen in Edinburgh this year.
The piece is adapted from the story The Destruction of Kreshev - written by Isaac Bashevis Singer - and deals with the effect a false messiah (Satan, in fact) has on a young couple and, eventually, an entire village. Singer’s family suffered under the Nazis, and it is not hard to draw parallels between the subtext of this tale and catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish race down the centuries. However, if we judge it simply as a piece of drama it is pretty flawless.
Under David Zoob’s tight and inventive direction, Lydia Baksh and David Hewson take on all the characters and each is brilliantly delineated and focused. It would have been easy to get confused in the hands of lesser performers, but the small audience I sat in were gripped and entranced. Whilst they both had moments of pain and humour, the main pleasure I derived from watching these two was thanks to their technique. Both have had professional training, and it shows. It really does. Vocal clarity, economic movement, and an understanding of stagecraft were all here in abundance.
Hewson is also a consummate musician, and the soundscape (Thyge Haarberg) and lighting (Heather Ready) also complimented and enhanced the telling of this tale. The only thing amiss in the production was that occasionally the performers, who spend a lot of time addressing the audience directly, spoke to empty seats, which diluted the ‘storytelling’ atmosphere that had been created.
This is an interesting story and the extremely high standard of this production is something you do not simply come across every day.