Another contribution to Finland’s arts programme, From Start to Finnish, this Edinburgh Fringe at Summerhall is Insomniac’s Fable.
Created by ballet dancer Emma Lister and contemporary circus artist Sakari Männistö, Insomniac’s Fable is a surreal dreamscape with evocative choreography by Ludovic Ondiviela and images by Angela Annesley. Performed by Männistö alongside Scottish dancer Erin O’Toole, the piece combines ballet, juggling and psychedelic design to portray a delicate love story with a Hitchcockian glint in its eye.
We’re greeted at the door by Männistö as we file into the lecture theatre. One wonders how the performance is going to unfold in this enclosed academic space. It would have been nice to see the performers have the facility to stretch out a little more but, save for knocking over a stage light at one point, they manage well.
The premise of ‘boy meets dream girl’ in Insomniac’s Fable merges traditional ballet storytelling with contemporary circus. This goes deeper than a simple sweet love story though, with a darker edge that creates an intriguing feeling that’s somewhat uneasy at times. The music alternates frequently between classical, serene and provocative and whilst the dancers adapt to some extent, this could possibly have been pushed even further.
The combining of dance and juggling brings an exciting and unusual element. Sakari Männistö demonstrates undeniable skill as he effortlessly juggles pins, hoops and balls. Erin O’Toole has unquestionable classical technique and, surprisingly, she also demonstrates circus skills in duet with Männistö. Together with the intriguing psychedelic images projected onto the white backdrop, which floats gently thanks to a fan side-stage, there’s an overall dreamlike quality to the performance.
Whilst at times there feels to be a slight lack of fluidity from one section to the next, there’s much to be admired in Insomniac’s Fable, not least the skill of the performers.