Dreams of the Small Gods – Summerhall

Performed & Created by Zinnia Oberski

Rating: 3 out of 5.

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

The soil beneath her feet is not the foundation 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.

Perchance, remember to breathe, 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 woman 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 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 then it continues.

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. Its 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 its dramatic pacing grinds the production following what already feels to have been the defining moment.

Neigh-perfect blend of physicality and storytelling

Dreams of the Small Gods runs at Summerhall until August 28th (not 15th or 22nd).

Tickets for which may be obtained here.

Photo Credit – Paul Maguire


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