Before Moč has even begun, it’s clear why Ljubljana Puppet Theatre are a festival favourite at Manipulate. As we wait to go into the Demonstration Room at Summerhall, Jiří Zeman – co-writer, co-director, and one half of tonight’s double act– comes out and offers a wee glimpse of what is in store. He is gently humorous, teasing the audience and feigning exasperation that we don’t seem enthusiastic enough for the show. And yet, as soon as we enter the theatre, the whole audience is transfixed by what is before us.
Waiting for us to arrive is Martina Maurič Lazar – the other half of the show’s creative duo. For the majority of the play, she remains seated in an elaborate armchair as Zeman occasionally (and often comically) moves around her – one minute a photographer, the next an advisor or servant waiting on her. While it becomes apparent that Maurič Lazar has the upper hand among the pair – playing the role of a regal figure – her power seems limited. The idea that she is trapped becomes clear through her restricted movement and the corseted ballgown she wears – particularly the cage-like hoop skirt worn underneath.
As Maurič Lazar’s character carries out her royal duties – sometimes reluctantly, other times relishing her power with an almost cruel demeanour – we see a small, glass marionette appear from the most unexpected of places. Each time, the puppet appears only briefly, but each time is noticeably more fragile.
It is here that Moč excels; it is striking in its simple but profound symbolism. Whether the puppet represents a loss of innocence, childhood, or even her own sense of autonomy and self, is up to the audience to decipher. With each visit from the small glass figure, Maurič Lazar begins to question her actions and place in the world. These interactions between the two are fleeting but tender, beautifully accentuated by the music provided by Milko Lazar. If anything, Moč leaves you wanting more – more action, and more puppetry delights.
A modest yet poignant hour of storytelling, Moč showcases puppetry in its simplest and purest form.