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BWW Finland Review: Fall in love with Wisdom at Ryhmäteatteri

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I can recommend this performance as it left a smile on my face, making me sigh out a happy breath after seeing live theatre again.

After a long term of theatre free life I had the thrilling chance to go see Ryhmäteatteri's Sophie's World (Sofian Maailma) at Suomenlinna Open-Air Theater.

A young girl Sophie (enthusiastic Suvi Blick) starts getting yellow letters as if out of nowhere. The performance is based on a novel with the same title by Jostein Gaarder and thus the theater version is quite absurd, playing along with meta-stages, which seems to be a trend these days. I'm not complaining, though, it is fun and leaves a lot to the director's and creative teams hands.

BWW Finland Review: Fall in love with Wisdom at Ryhmäteatteri
Suvi Blick as Sophie

Rather than a grand adventure story with character development we're offered an upbeat journey throughout the history of philosophy.

On top of these themes the performance stands up to ask: what is important in life? Are you a "flee who climbs towards the light or a flee who stays to lay around?" This contrast between Sophie and her dear mother (great comedic-voice and overall character by Sari Mällinen) is well done, especially in the scene where the mother has no clue what Sophie talks about in and tries to understand. But that's it: she has no actual curiosity, which is the beginning of wisdom.

We can all see our own mothers, cousins or whomever, who as well isn't interested in the wonders and love of wisdom, Philosophy.

If there is something to criticize I'd say there were a little too much going on at times. Sounds, music, speech, important plot outlines spoken out, all at the same time... Also I think Sophie's costume and habitus could have been a little more youthful as she now seemed like one in her early twenties. She could have had more colors on her or maybe two ponytails - or even better - tied up ponytails on her hair. What I mean is there should have been a little more childful life to the character. I'm not sure if the director's vision was an "angsty" or unsure teen, but there was at times a little too much huffing and grunts.

Also, the performance could have had a little more pauses and times out to let it breath, even as little as three seconds. There was a one moment when the mother spoke to Sophie and Sophie asked "What, mother?" while just sitting on the floor and watching, in that moment I saw peace and rootedness!

The best moment of Sophie (and naturally Blick's actor's work) was her tap dancing. She shone energy like "here I am, I'll show you!" and had peace and confidence. No huffs.

BWW Finland Review: Fall in love with Wisdom at Ryhmäteatteri
From left to right: Jouni Innilä, Robin Svartström and Aarni Kivinen

In the second half of the show the plot started rolling for sure and it was almost as the actors too had more thought of what's going on. There was peace and rootedness. Compared to the first half where things were confusing and mysterious, the second half offers a little more of adventure and solving out the mystery.

What it comes to props (staging by Janne Siltavuori) the crumbs of bread were amazing and the use of them in near history of Philosophy. Neat, imaginative usage of objects is something I appreciate in directing, so way to go Johanna Freundlich!

Something else I loved was the strict characterisation of the Philosophers: Aristoteles was a little hard to get on with, the one (sorry, I forgot the name!) who questioned if one exists just strolled around gloomily and my favorite Kant was a superstar.

After you "get over" the hole of your own common knowledge in philosophers you can actually start enjoying their wisdom and history of them. By this I mean that I knew many names, but few of their teachings.

If you crave for - ironically - Aristotelian Three Act structure to a story that has a clear start, middle and ending, this isn't the thrilling adventure for you. But if you're ready to sit on your seat and enjoy the imagination the crew has put on stage in terms of bringing philosophy and philosophers to life, through them wondering the meta-meaning of everything you see and hear... This is for you!

So I can recommend this performance as it left a smile on my face, making me sigh out a happy breath after seeing live theatre again.

But please, fellow theatre makers: let go of the flossin aka backbag kid -dance. Please.

Text: Rosanna Ilo Liuski

Photos: Mitro Härkönen

BWW Finland Review: Fall in love with Wisdom at Ryhmäteatteri






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