A concert pianist has a freak accident and receives the hands of a murderer, real-life stories from Polish cleaners intermingle with songs from a Viennese operetta and the fine line between celebrity and sociopathy is explored on Sigmund Freud's old couch.
That's just a hint at what's on offer at Chelsea Theatre over the coming weeks as performers from across Europe and the UK muscle up to the push the boundaries of live art.
More than 20 acts have been lined up for the pint-sized playhouse's Sacred season, now in its fourth year, which runs until November 22.
Artistic director Francis Alexander promised newcomers and loyal audience members alike something totally different from what they've experienced before.
“These performers turn theatre, ballet and opera on their heads,” he said.
“They reinvent these traditional art forms and do so with love, creating something completely new and, for me, thoroughly inspirational.”
One of the highlights of this year's festival is a production of Franz Lehar's 1905 high society operetta The Merry Widow, performed by a cast of real-life Polish cleaning ladies.
Director Cezary Tomaszewski, who was himself fired after two days as a cleaner, said he had been inspired to cast the unknowns because there were so many 'faceless' Polish cleaners living on the edge of Austrian society.
“The Merry Widow is for me a symbol of Vienna, and so are Polish cleaning ladies,” he explained.
“Everyone talks about them, knows of their existence, and gives them work, but nobody sees their presence or hears their voices.
“My ad must have sounded weird; someone looking for cleaners to sing and dance in a Lehar operetta. I think some people were worried I was trying to make fun of them.
“Only two girls came but luckily they both had music and drama experience. They helped us find the other two, who had never been on stage before this. They're just themselves on stage: funny, touching, tragic, honest and sexy.”
The Merry Widow is at Chelsea Theatre, in World's End Place, off King's Road, on Thursday (November 5). For more about the Sacred season, visit http://www.chelseatheatre.org.uk/sacred2009.htm