La Loba

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review (dance, physical theatre and circus): Zoo Southside (Venue 82). Reviewed by Kelly Apter

It takes a special kind of performer to use stillness in a compelling way. When Andrea Opavská stands on the stage motionless, or shuffles at slow speed, it could so easily drain the energy from this haunting production by Lenka Vagnerová & Company. And yet, Opavská is like a magnet – drawing us in from the first second to the last.

Winner of the Czech Dancer of the Year Award 2014, she has a movement quality perfectly suited to La Loba (“wolf woman”). Inspired by an old folktale, with versions in many different languages and cultures, the show centres on a woman who wanders the countryside, turning bones and skeletons back into living creatures.

At first she is old and hunched, a touch unhinged as she scurries around the space carrying a long piece of matted sheep’s wool, reminiscent of hair. But stripping back a layer of clothes she is freed, and it is here that Opavská truly shines. Fast turns, rolls and tumbles carry her across the floor, her body as fluid as water.

All the while, the dramatic vocals (and presence) of Czech singer Jana Vébrová echo around the space. Opavská and Vébrová play two parts of the same woman, and when they finally interact, there is a moment of pure gold as Vébrová reaches inside her other self and starts pulling out bones. First goes her forearm, then her lower leg, finally her spinal column, rendering Opavská’s body even more loose and malleable than it was before.

In the closing scene, the new world enters the old, when Opavská drags a large, blue Ikea bag on to the stage. Its contents – dozens of animals skulls and bones – are fashioned into something wondrous, as the two women connect through movement, vocals and a shared torment over their search for life among death.

Until 25 August. Today 5pm, more info

Originally published in The Scotsman

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