A bare stage is illuminated by a single bulb. A performer circles the space, checking all is as it should be. With his hand, he traces the outline of something or someone behind a floaty curtain, conjuring his dream into life. Blink and a woman has appeared from the gloom. And over 45 minutes, their relationship unfolds.
Agit Cirk hail from Finland and make contemporary circus. Insomniac’s Fable is a captivating blend of dance, physical theatre, visual trickery, animation and juggling, executed with casual panache by performers Sakari Männistö and Erin O’Toole. As a dream hops between apparently disconnected scenes, the action scoots between short sequences of lyrical choreography (Ludovic Ondiviela), accompanied by an eclectic, nicely discombobulating soundtrack and stunning lighting from Eero Auvinen.
The movement, along with accomplished juggling from Männistö, is spare, funny and surprising and – like the best dreams – includes moments of pure magic. There’s a beautiful sequence with a red ribbon, some elegantly evocative aligning of performers and animation (featuring lovely woodcuts by Cornish artist Angela Annesley), and a delightful tableau featuring the stepladder that sounds decidedly unromantic but is actually properly breathtaking.
The story – if there is one – is elusive. It’s one of those shows where the description (a love story) provided on Summerhall’s website might be illuminative for some but if you’re a fan of physical theatre, visual theatre, dance, circus or all of the above, you’ll likely not worry too much about needing to discern a plot and instead, sit back and enjoy this stylish, quirky, inventive little dream of a performance.
Insomniac’s Fable runs until Sun 27 Aug 2023 at Summerhall – Cairns Lecture Theatre at 11:00