Energy and humour: 420PEOPLE in Wind-up

ZOO Southside, Edinburgh
August 11, 2017

David Mead


A co-production with Kylián Productions, the commercial arm of Kylián Foundation, and the Archa Theatre, Prague, Wind-up by Václav Kuneš for 420PEOPLE (part of the Czech Showcase at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe) certainly comes with pedigree; and a cracking 40 minutes it turned out to be too.

I didn’t get the idea of memories of the past that apparently formed part of the inspiration for the Wind-up, although it seems likely that the projections and images that usually go with the work, and that were missing in Edinburgh, would make that clearer. What I did see was an often dynamic, sometimes witty, sometimes serious sextet that’s full of sudden releases energy. It was beautifully danced too.

Themes build-up slowly. Often, they eventually crash and break-up, something new rising from the remains. So, while there is repetition, it’s so cleverly wrapped within the whole that it rarely feels like you’re seeing the same thing again. One duet in particular is full of effortless, smooth lifts and supports.

Wind-up by Václav Kuneš for 420PEOPLEPhoto Maciej Zakrzewski
Wind-up by Václav Kuneš for 420PEOPLE
Photo Maciej Zakrzewski

Jan Mlčoch’s lighting is excellent, especially one section where he manages to give a monochrome effect to everything. And all the time there’s a sense of pressure, of time, of never having enough time, a feeling enhanced by Amos Ben-Tal’s music and its ever underlying ‘tick-tock’.

Moments of humour sprout naturally from the movement, especially in the opening sequence that features the six dancers lined up across the front of the stage, each with a wooden pallet. It’s Kuneš himself who is usually the dancer who forgets, whose pallet falls over when he fails to balance perfectly, who gets bored and sort of gives up, or who launches a paper aeroplane across the stage while another dance goes on. That’s witty enough in itself, but what really makes it are the looks he gets from the others.

The sense of the clock always ticking, time always pushing on, never stopping, is perfectly illustrated in the simple, but repeated phrase of circling arms, leaps and reaches that Wind-up finishes with. They made it!

Wind-up is at ZOO Southside until August 19. For more details and booking click here.
Running time: 40 minutes.