One Step Before The Fall returns to Edinburgh again this year, with its dynamic performing duo of Marketa Vacovska and Lena Dusilova.
The play explores the life of Muhammad Ali, charting his journey into boxing, his soaring success, and his tragic descent into Parkinson’s disease. Vacovska’s performance is fluid, moving, and powerfully detailed as we follow her to the play’s shuddering end. Her obvious physical prowess and stamina, combined with bold choreography, make for fascinating viewing. Having a woman exhibit Ali’s strength was extremely poignant.
The play is greatly enhanced by vocals, music, and sound design, with Dusilova providing a haunting, intricate soundtrack for the show.
The play itself, however, was a little hard to follow in places, and I’m not sure how obviously they intended to make the connection with Ali. It featured a boxing ring and a boxer, and perhaps that was enough for some audience members, but it did feel quite ambiguous, and at times the storytelling didn’t quite carry.
What did leave an impression, however, were the moments when the audience was brought breathtakingly close to the action. Vacovska threw herself around the boxing ring, frequently rebounding almost into her audience, perhaps echoing Ali’s frustration at the limitations of his body.
This is an incredibly visceral production, with performers who are clearly hugely talented. But as a theatrical experience, it suffered a little from its own esoteric nature.