Assembly Murrayfield Ice Rink
The concept of loneliness and the consequences of isolation are recurrent themes at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe. It’s not hard to see how this came about, after two years of social interactions reduced to the bare bones. Circus, for one, is facing an interesting evolution, shifting from the usual collective efforts to more intimate offerings in terms of surroundings and number of artists involved.
This is also the case for Hungarian company Recirquel – lead by founder and choreographer Bence Vági – whose seven-strong pre-Covid My Land has now made way for IMA. A solo show in a purpose-built hut intended to immerse audiences into a mystic experience.
Before being admitted into the space, we are given a tiny roll of sheer ribbon and invited to wait in the lobby. The ribbon is to be unravelled and tied to a suspended net whilst making a wish. The word “ima”, which in Hungarian means pray, is the ultimate expression of hope for something we strongly want to happen.
Finally, inside the dimly lit dome, the atmosphere is eerie, looking and feeling like a temple. We step into it as we would into the sacred building of a religion we don’t know much about. Not with a sense of belonging, but deeply compelled to show respect nonetheless. A priest-like creature – veiled with the same fabric the ribbon was made of – is gathered in the centre of the round. Is that an embodiment of our wish?
As the performance unravels, the priest-cum-aerialist superbly executes gentle routines on the floor or at the strap. Meanwhile, beams of cold light pierce through the tent, reminiscent of God as an entity emanating rays of light. There’s a religious slowness to the whole experience, as if the initial dance ritual had elevated the artist’s soul to an outer dimension that we can only see from a distant, earthly place. The effect is breath-taking.
IMA is a one-of-a-kind supernatural journey and is well worth the bus ride out of town to the Murrayfield Ice Rink.
Choreographed and Directed by: Bence Vági
Produced by: Recirquel Cirque Danse by Bence Vági
IMA plays at EdFringe 2023 until 27 August, times vary. Further information and bookings here.