40/40 – Fruitmarket

Conceived, Created, Written, Designed and Performed by Katherina Radeva

Movement Support from Liz Aggiss, Lucy Suggate, Rachel Krische

Rating: 4 out of 5.

A thoroughly moving celebration of Katherina Radeva’s forty years as a woman, a migrant, and an artist, 40/40 claims a space just for one hour, a meagre sliver of these forty years, to share stories of her past, present, and perhaps future with those willing to listen: told with movement, speech, and a lot of electrical tapes.

Supported by three female choreographers, Lucy Suggate, Liz Aggiss and Rachel Krische, dance is (on the surface) the principal method of communication for Radeva’s show. Still, it’s far from a clean-cut movement piece. A soupcon of a specked biographical show, 40/40 could be a great deal of things – though it certainly follows a path of sorts along the experiences and ventures of Radeva’s life. And though remarkably personal in spoken word and idea, at no point does this production stray into avenues of excluding the audiences: this could be anyone’s story. Anyone’s celebration.

It’s rare to compact a life into any period, let alone an hour, but from the young girl dancing at her parents to a body-shamed rhythmic gymnast to the creative refuting the categorises they’re boxed into, 40/40 does an eloquent job of offering insight into ripples of Radeva’s life. But we’re all here now, at this moment. And with her offer of a beer or a drink at the finale – there is a sense of commonality, a shared authenticity in this life-affirming piece, something so many others attempt but fail to capture.  

There’s a sense of Radeva reclaiming not only their glorious intricacies, failings, successes, and laughter – but openly encouraging the audience to do similar – and vitally, at their own pacing. No one is forced to feel anything, but 40/40 is such an unapologetic celebration of self-acceptance, and of joy, in everything we do: no matter how small, that it’s impossible not to feel a kinship and a smile emerge.

There’s an uncomplicated articulateness to the staging, a flat surface, devised as a space for Radev’s movement, but structured for the surrounding audiences, who make up a fence around the performance space – ensuring no angle is uncovered or hidden to reinforce the honesty and openness of it all. Electrical tape of bright colours litters the continuously growing installation, stuck to the floor of the space, Radeva adding more to it as the night goes on: familiar patterns of the Snakes and Ladders board game offer a clear dimension to the ups and downs of life. But it’s a game we’ve been forced to play.

Strengthened with a surrounding scope of light from Marty Langthorne, which pulses in intensity and colour – occasionally flooding out the electrical tape creations, other times enhancing both the staging and Rositza Radeva’s costume, which ranges from the clean and simple to strikingly wonderful headdresses. Tim Blazedell balancing a tremendous sound score weaves well in pacing from the familiar pop music to Balkans’ folk with relative ease – never feeling out of touch with Radeva, synchronised beautifully with the pulsating lights.

The fountain of youth, or at least the fountain of life has sprung. Our biological machines feel weary, brittle, and tired upon entry into the Fruitmarket studio but Katherina Radeva just doesn’t let this fly. This won’t change the world. It won’t stop corruption or heal wounds. Hell, it might not even change your night. But what 40/40 proves – is that context is everything. 40/40 is entirely in the moment – it doesn’t exist outside of these four walls, but the feelings it conjures are real. And audiences won’t forget this.

Entirely in the Moment

40/40 runs at the Fruitmarket on February 7th. Runs for one hour without interval: Ages 18+

40/40 was able to be performed thanks to Creative Scotland, with support from Tramway Glasgow and Dance Base Scotland. 

Photo Credit – Garry Cook and Beth Chalmers


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