The Sauna (2 stars)

The Sauna

Soile Makela

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).

The Sauna

  • 2 stars

Teatteri Metamorfoosi in association with From Start to Finnish The Sauna is a story of an old woman. Her intention to die is distracted by irritating spirit of sauna. This mythical creature, also known as the elf of sauna, evokes the corporal memories of the lady and takes her through the chapters of her womanhood.

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