altAs beautiful and predatory as its namesake, Wolf sets out to explore the relationship between Man and wolf, and to attack some of the myths that have grown up around these fascinating creatures.

The dark caverns of The Caves make an atmospheric setting for this piece of visual theatre, as the audience stand, listening to the distant sound of howls and snuffles. Slowly the wolves insinuate themselves amongst the crowd, sniffing at clothing, fiddling with jewellery and getting to know the people they’ll be playing with for the next hour.

The six-strong team of dancers playing the wolf pack truly inhabit their characters, movements matching their words lyrically, speaking of runs in the forest, howling at the moon and the fear created by Man’s destructive hunting. The lynchpin of the piece is the re-introduction of wolves into the wild in Scotland, and this serves as a jumping-off point into the many ways humans have represented wolves over the years.

From Norse myths to psychoanalysis, from fairytales to werewolves, the whole gamut of lupine storytelling is touched upon, mixed up into one multisensory adventure. Members of the audience are pulled out to be Little Red Riding Hood or to howl at the moon, but unusually for this type of production the audience participation never feels embarrassing or forced.

One problem with the production comes near the end, when a cold-blooded hunter attacks the pack. This obvious and poorly conceived stereotype briefly destroys the mood set by the rest of the piece, and suddenly the whole thing feels like a party political broadcast by the Wolf Marketing Board. There are also a couple of swearwords that feel out of place and seem completely unnecessary.

The vast majority of Wolf, however, is absorbing and creative, and as a theatrical experience is likely to be one that will remain in the mind for a long time to come.

Just the Tonic @ The Caves, 5-29 Aug (not 17), 12.15pm

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