Review: LISTA (THE LIST) at Finnish National Theatre

Review: LISTA (THE LIST) at Finnish National Theatre
"Exhale", Pirjo Määttä takes on the List monologue by Jennifer Tremblay

A soothing piano medley starts playing as a simple image of empty treebranches appears on a wide screen. Our performer steps on the stage. Even her dress is made of lists.

In this day and age keeping your life in order is very fashionable. Lista, the List monologue by Jennifer Tremblay (2008) drills touchingly into many themes and stories: we face emotionally draining challenges of motherhood, warm friendship yet unstoppable comparison between neighbours that brings feelings of obligation, bottomless need to success, naïve good will and most of all performance based life by trying to keep one's list in check.

Our performer wants to open up and speak out. A tragedy has taken place in her life. A tragedy she could have- so she thinks- stopped, only if she would have been more careful with her listing. Pirjo Määttä skilfully takes on the characteristics of a neurotic performer of life who sees merely nothing else than tasks around her: in her relationships, in being a mother, in every day routines. The scenography is fairly minimalistic, yet flexible to the audience's imagination as it was not hard to view the long blocks we saw on the stage as the Dominos of the Domino Effect the performer was talking about. Her first use of slang as a definition of I was when she confessed she doesn't want to "live here", on a country side they'd just moved in. That was her first honest confession of uncomfort. She thought life would be happier after a change, after a completed task of moving. But she is left feeling blue and burdened. Her dress is made out of lists and her glasses resemble safety glasses, from where even tears cannot fall out.

Every thing must be under control. She keeps on repeating aloud her lists.

List's dramaturgy and choreography is also gently thought out as Määttä shows how her friend "held a baby and instructed a children's party game" with such a little gesture it makes the audience pay even more attention. Also the scene where she went to the movies was very good and pleasing to watch. On stage there is also bunch of lists hanging from the roof in a bunch that are completely empty, not even a scribble. To me it told a story that she, we, wouldn't have to complete or perform anything at all in life. There are no real expectations, but we create them ourselves in our heads. In spite of that, the listing goes on.

Undoubtedly the text of this one woman's play is very polished and neat. One of the most tearjerking scenes among many was when her thoughts mixed up after the tragedy. She still tried to keep everything in order in the great distress, but wasn't able to. It was very well written and performed.

All in all List is a moving story of a distressed woman of this day and age, where we are fed a fantasy that everything could be controlled and ordered out. But life comes unexpected; we didn't even decide ourselves whether we want to be born or not, but yet here we are. List teaches that life can be harmonious and charming, if we just could accept it with all its blessings and burdens, all of which we cannot control.

Photos: Tuomo Manninen
Article: Rosanna Liuski

Review: LISTA (THE LIST) at Finnish National Theatre

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