The stage is dark and misty, a figure swings back and forth. Soon, this wild woman comes down from the trees, finding herself one with the Earth below, and attracting the attention of an animal spirit.
Through trapeze and floor work Zinnia Oberski wordlessly tells this story of discovery, self awareness and evolution. From the first primates in the branches through to the self-awareness and development of ritual and worship. Though there is no dialogue it is very clear the story this piece tells, of our ancestors becoming human developing fantasy and ritual to be where, in the words of Terry Pratchett, ‘the falling angel meets the rising ape.’
The Demonstration Room is an excellent choice of venue for this piece, the sharp raked seating gives excellent views of both the aerial and the floor work for the whole audience. The aerial work is strong and skilfully done. It is an impressive show of control rather than the stunts or tricks more normally seen at a show. The floor work is solid but occasionally rather repetitive.
This show makes no attempt to rush its audience; with carefully, precise movement there is time, perhaps too much, to dwell on and ponder the transformation before us. The pacing is not going to appeal to everyone. On some level, it suits the evolutionary time scale depicted, but there is a fine line between letting the audience think and not really having enough material for the full time.
The highlight of the show is when we first see the spirits, represented by an eye-catching skull mask. Watching Oberski’s character chase, discover and eventually embrace this spirit, religion and fantasy was cleverly done. Well choreographed interplay with the floating mask and a well designed piece that could be worn while doing such acrobatics made this middle section the most engaging.
Though this piece may not have broad appeal it is a well done, thought-provoking piece that explores an essence of what it means to be human and how important our stories are.