One Step Before the Fall @ the Purcell Room (Southbank Centre) Review

Regarded as one of the greatest sportsmen to have ever lived, if not ‘The Greatest’ as he has famously proclaimed many a time, Muhammed Ali is world renowned as being the most celebrated boxer of our times, if not in the history of the sport…

1.Veronika Kotlíková in One Step Before the Fall by Spitfire (c) Martin Mařák resize

Performed by Veronika Kolikova of award winning performance group, Spitfire Company; One Step before the Fall is a compelling portrayal of Ali’s enduring battle with Parkinson’s Disease. A poignant observation of the showman Vs reality, the piece begun with an ambiguous soundbite played by award winning musician Lenka Dusilova. Positioned down stage centre on a heightened platform, Veronika would occasionally smile at the audience as if to gain some sort of affirmation from the public. As the soundbite played, it slowly dawned that the initially ambiguous soundtrack that could be heard through the speakers was the muffled speech of Ali himself. This served as a quietly startling, yet emotive reminder of the sporting legends condition. Dressed in a smart white shirt, Veronika removed this to reveal a black vest top, dim lighting accentuated her toned arms as she began to perform a sequence incorporating tranquil T’ai Chi movements, with strong warrior poses. The choreography accelerated in pace, to the point that her repetitive spinning punches became a hypnotic blur within the space. This, accompanied with Lenka’s echoing and otherworldly live soundtrack created the illusion of the world spinning around Veronika,  every training session rolling into one and becoming a blur. The crux of the performance was Veronika’s creation of the boxing ring, a metaphorical statement of showmanship and strength. As Veronika danced and battled her opponents, Lenka’s fiery and unapologetic rock accompaniment created the brash and gregarious environment of the boxing arena, as crowds cheered and opponents fought. At the sound of each bell ring, there was a new battle to face, whether that was facing a rival, or herself. As the performance went on,Veronika’s once confident and dynamic protagonist slowly began to fight against the degenerative condition, as limbs began to tremble. This was also echoed through the trembling ropes of the boxing ring, as the rope uncontrollably wavered within the space.

A powerful and poignant dance solo, beautifully envisioned by Director Petr BohacMarketa Vacovska‘s athletic and dynamic choreography, Veronika Kotlikova‘s defiant yet emotive characterisation and Lenka Dusilova‘s charismatic and eclectic soundtrack. 4/5

3.Veronika Kotlíková in One Step Before the Fall by Spitfire (c) Martin Mařák resize

One Step Before the Fall, performed by Spitfire Company is currently showing at The Purcell Room (Southbank Centre) until Sunday 26th January.

For more information on the production, which is being performed as part of the London International Mime Festival, click here…

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