CircusPhysical TheatreReviewScotland

ED FRINGE: Dreams of the Small Gods – Summerhall, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Dominic Corr

This is the story of an awakening: the awakening of something raw, unaware, and unfiltered, that of a Wild Woman.

The soil beneath her feet is not the foundations of her journey, however, instead progressing through this new world, and her body through movement to explore her aerial surroundings, in a brief and allegorical adventure through evolution as this Wild Woman, devoid of self-conscious thought begins to meticulously discover her limbs, her muscles, and her being.

Per chance, remember to breath, difficult to remember as the entirety of your conscious will be initially captivated by the displays of physical aerial feats and performance art. Save for occasional lapses where music, or whispered chanting occurs, Dreams of the Small Gods is silent save for performer and creative Zinnia Oberski’s breathing or the rasps of the branch swing and ropes.

Finding their footing upon the stage, spread with soil and mist, the elements of a more self-conscious creature emerge from the once Wild Woman as a mask descends from the rafters. A monolithic creature, primal and arcane, its power becomes a curiosity to the women who finds herself transformed, drawing an ancient force from the coming together of animal, human, and spiritual. The contortion escalates, and the precision in each muscle movement causes a discomfort as Oberski emulates something seething inside, seeking to take control or escape.

For a moment, in the still of the trampled earth, as the whispering chants fall back into the realms, they crept from this new god stands as the ultimate paradox: vulnerable, yet indomitable. Dreams of the Small Gods obtains a place as a stellar production of swift and decisive storytelling which infuses ritualistic movements, Greek mythos, and inspiration.

But it continues past the point of what initially seems to be completion.

Where the mechanics of narrative and movement feel overarching and comprehensive, Dreams of the Small Gods continues to push towards the hour mark and in doing so unravels the tightly woven structure it possessed. It’s epilogue, though communicating additional elements of an understandable place within the story, is an expansion which detracts somewhat – without insult or question to the talents of Oberski, the dynamics of the performance remain impressive and concise, but it’s dramatic pacing grinds the production following what already feels to have been the defining moment.

Simultaneously demonstrating how we (humanity) belong to the animal kingdom and our own self-inflated realm of bipedal deity, Scissor Kick and Zinnia Oberski extract the ego of humanity and strips it bare for audiences. And for a time, Dreams of the Small Gods is a neigh-perfection blend of raw physicality and arcane storytelling, which lingers a little extensively in the realms of Morpheus.

Runs at Summerhall until August 28th (not 15th or 22nd) 2022

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