- Donald Hutera
- 9 August 2018
Finnish mask and object theatre that fails to heat up the blood
There is an actual sauna out the front of Summerhall, operating for just a couple of hours in the evening and with a capacity for five people at a time. A visit there might well be more rewarding than this slow-burn piece of wordless mask and object theatre from Finland that never truly sparks into life.
Created by the Helsinki-based Teatteri Metamorfoosi, the show focuses on an elderly woman sitting in a sauna essentially waiting to die. But then a sauna spirit materialises, triggering memories in the old lady that lead her back to life.
It's a fairly simple, low-key but promising premise. Cast members Ilka Hartikainen and Johanna Kultala are encased in some pretty convincingly stylised body suits, with skinny, low-hanging, breasts for the old woman and love handles for the more buxom spirit creature. The production's physical set-up is potentially pretty charming too, with three platforms arranged centre-stage and, off to the side, a third performer, Riina Tikkanen, who provides nice live sound effects (creaks, scrapes, bell-tones, water drips and the like).
But the theatre space itself isn't conducive to the kind of gentle intimacy for which the show strives. The addition of dim lighting, a slow pace and the overall lack of drive means this sauna fails to gather steam.
Summerhall, until 26 Aug (not 20), 5.25pm, £10 (£8).