A young woman sits on the floor in a bright upper room in the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, a large rucksack with a sleeping roll dumped by her side. Dressed in a purple vest top and long hippie skirt with a similar-coloured headband scarf tying her long dark hair, she looks as if she’s come in from a mysterious journey. To complete the picture, there’s also a glimpse of lime green socks through the lacy trim of the skirt.. As she begins to tell her tale, a continuous stream of poetry, the audience is also taken on a journey into a surreal land of strange recollections and observations borrowed from fairy tales and children’s stories. Certainly the spirit of Alice is conjured up with the line ‘I feel that I’ve fallen into a magic well,’ although the performer has a wide-eyed innocence as opposed to Alice’s snippy confusion.
This is a one-off performance by a one-off performer.
The performance is a recitation of an illustrated book of verse by Margarita Shcheglova, who goes by the pen-name Agatha Magic Loveshrr – an anagram of her name and a poem in itself, so she says. The poems are child-like reflections with short sentences and simple – sometimes rather weak – rhymes, and hover somewhere between magical fantasy and psychedelic trip. Occasionally, the words are hard to make out due to the performer’s strong Russian accent and the piping falsetto vocal style retains a childish naïveté which comes across as slightly too puerile. It seems as if this a child trapped in an adult body and while this comes across as quaintly sweet, it may weird some people out.
The 45-minute performance uses variation of movement, pace and vocal tone to carry the audience through Shcheglova’s strange land, the product of her peculiar imagination. It seems like a trance (that some might find entrancing). At one point, the performer takes a rest in a dark forest and draws her long skirt up around her body, revealing her luminous green leggings which, in the bright room, create a jarring, disturbing visual. If an audience wants to believe in the faery world evoked, this simple and charming piece of work should be taken at face value. However, it might not be an easy show for a Freudian critic.
At the end of the performance, the audience is invited to say something to the faeries at the bottom of the performer’s rucksack. A little piece of magic? Who knows? But, as Shcheglova says, the book was written in a whirl of inspiration. ‘I was going merely to have fun and not talking about anything serious.’ This is a one-off performance by a one-off performer.