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Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre


Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre

In short: the Lord of the Rings at the Turku City theatre is just phenomenal and mesmerizing. Every aspect of it from the costumes to the programme is created with huge love, passion and detail. Anyone who has even a small interest to the saga should absolutely go see it! This is totally a show worth the money.

Now to the longer review that is made with the same kind of love and passion

It's Gandalf. He begins to tell us the story of the Rings. Behind a black, transparent curtain at the back of the stage we see quick flashbacks from the past: the creating of the rings, the war of the last alliance... The flashbacks are excellently timed out and gets the audience immersed into the story right away. A terrific spectacle is about to begin!

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
Stefan Karlsson is Frodo

The Lord of the Rings, directed by Mikko Kouki based on the story created by J. R. R. Tolkien at the Turku City Theatre is nothing less than excellent. I haven't read the books by myself-- even though one lays in my bookshelf-- but I do have seen the movies by Peter Jackson a few years ago. Some characters are left out from this stage adaption, but as they say in the beautifully crafted programme: "The journey of the ring is in the focus!"

The show goes in a flow, though I guess it'd be vital to know the storyline beforehand to get the most out of this spectacle. The magnificent costumes were something I noticed early on and they did fit well to the show like a second breakfast fits to a Hobbit's eating habits. Still, the costumes carried the artist's own vision: kudos to Pirjo-Liiri Majava for creating 150 costumes to this performance! There's so much work that's been done before the show and is going on during this performance: "Even though on the stage there would be a peaceful moment, at the backstage there's a hustle", the programme tells us. Given there's so many changes in the scenery and props, I won't doubt it!

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
All the 66 beards and wigs are brushed before every show!

There are two actors who do the character of Gollum, Miska Kaukonen and his stunt Jaakko Hutchings, which works extremely well. For example later in the show we see how Gollum hops away from the rock where the two Hobbits sleep, gently talking to them as he goes off from the stage, but in a few seconds he peers from behind the rock to look at the ring, lured. A breathtaking, dreamlike moment!

At the beginning of the show the black, transparent curtain of the old history is being taken away, and we begin to follow the story of recent history: how Sméagol became Gollum. Gollum used to be a Hobbit called Sméagol and the actor Kaukonen did a fantastic, cartoonlike voice that deserves a mention here. But then, after time and a tragic happening, he is turned into Gollum, the beholder of the ring. We see him, climbing a wall, which is another magnificent moment at the very beginning of the show. I honestly can't praise our Gollum enough: the looks, the movement, everything! We all have an idea of how he moves and is, and he ends up being just phenomenal, both the stunt and the actor. Especially his kh-sound or coughing is impressive and finely timed out throughout his scenes. Now then, that was the praise of Gollum, let's move into the rest of the performance.

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
The use of the doubles is magnificent and creative, especially in the scene above as they're not seen on stage at the same time, but remain as one character! Miska Kaukonen's in the photo.

Something about lighting that caught my attention and approval was how there was the same kind of lighting, orange and blue, when Bilbo met Gollum during the scene of recent history as it was in the middle of the performance when Frodo was with Gollum in the same kinds of caves. The performance excellently does this in another way too when in the beginning, before any tragedy the birds sing in the Shire-- almost so loud I wasn't able to hear the soft talking of the actors. But when the adventure is set on and later our heroes find themselves in the dark caves, the drama is increased as one of them points out: "How silent it is... Even the birds aren't singing." Boom!

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
If you asked Gollum, he'd eat the birds!

Frodo's (Stefan Karlsson) brisk physique and way of moving was very heartwarming. I also loved Saruman (Petri Rajala), his voice and how dramatic he was with his expressions. I enjoyed very much to look at the faces he made while the bright light lit up his face while he stood at the top of the aisles of Isengard. In terms of stage acting there must be more exaggerated facial expressions if a character's face is strongly lit up like that. The only thing was that he kept the exaggarated expressions after he came down to the floor level, even to the front of the stage, which wouldn't have been necessary in terms of lighting and staging, and what we as the audience saw. At first it was a little comedic, because I was expecting something else, a tune down after the lighting and all, but perhaps it was a part of the habitus of Petri Rajala's Saruman, which otherwise throughout the show was one of the best performances for sure.

Talking about the Wizards of the story, something I wondered almost straight away was that should have the actor of Gandalf been a little older? At least he sounded fairly young compared to the image I had of him based on Sir Ian McKellen's representation in the films. Perhaps the story needed only one easily recognisable old man, which this time ended up being Saruman. The little age difference they had, now when I think about it gave the impact that Gandalf is still young in terms of Wizard years, but Saruman during his time has ended up towards the evil, luring Gandalf too, like a "messenger of Sauron" himself, as Gandalf ends up scolding. Perhaps that was the reason. But because Gandalf and especially his voice is so vital part of the show, I would have loved to hear more maturity in it. Nevertheless, Mika Kujala's Gandalf is steady. His height makes him stand out of the group as he gently leads the story on with his wand of amazing special effects. Still, the role itself remains to be a little flat despite of his outward change at the end.

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
Saruman tricks Gandalf and lifts him up in the air with his magic.

With a cheered spirit it's nicer to travel towards your destiny!

After the recent renovation of the Turku City Theatre the stage and its many moving parts and floors were just mesmerizing to watch! The appearing of the Prancing Pony was really cool, especially when it was literally under the ground, a simple hatch in the floor guarded by a man with an oil lamp in a blue light-- talking about the atmosphere here! Then it began rising up. The tricks of the skilled acrobats of the show who took on the roles of these drunken fellows as well brought just the right mood. I was also able to smell some smells that drifted from the stage too. Theatre for all senses, I say!

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
The Prancing Pony that rose from the ground and brought some smells too!

At the Prancing Pony we're introduced to Aragorn (Markus Järvenpää). His voice was a total 5/5 from the beginning, a total Aragorn sound. At the Prancing Pony we get a glimpse of how it looks when Frodo uses the ring for the first time too, which is created very excellently through the ways of theatre. One of the most upbeat moments of the show happened when a little after the first use of the ring Frodo receives a letter from Gandalf, which in addition to other things says do not use the ring under any circumstances! And Frodo blurts whoops before he keeps reading the rest of the letter. It almost seemed unrehearsed, which is a good thing! The whole audience burst into a warm laugh for the first time in the show, which was very welcomed after some eerie scenes with the Black Riders and all!

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
The scary Black Riders were performed by the skilled acrobats of the show!

Throughout the show we see some cool pyrotechnical effects, designed by Tero Aalto. Something that was a little too much to me-- not because of the pyrotechnic effect, but because of the choreography of the character-- was when one villain of the dark army was caught in flames. Of course a moment like that has to be seen and underlined, but not in a way that the character comes to the front stage, waving his hands-- two times in a row. The moment was more like: "look, I have to show off this cool pyro-effect", than a believable moment of someone being in fire. Well, minor things, minor things, dear article reader.

As I said before the show is made with love. Even the glittery blankets of Rivendell speak about it. The show balances neatly, as the story does, with glimpses of hope and moments of darkness. It tells about bravery and how we may not perceive it in ourselves that well, even though others would. The Rivendell scene was very important after all the horrors we saw earlier. The way the Hobbits were joyful to see each other and bounced on their places was excellent. Kudos to all the joyful Hobbits Hannes Suominen, Markus Riuttu, and especially Teemu Aromaa of whom I was somehow especially fond of. And Stefan Karlsson's briskness as Frodo I already crowned.

Also, in the Rivendell scene I was able to hear such a blabber when the question of who's up for the quest was asked. No actual words was I able to detect from it, which is unusual in scenes as such, so it must have been very well rehearsed! Kimmo Rasila was faultless as Elrond and it was a surprise to me to read that he took on other characters in the play too. Wonderful! What a chameleon, especially in terms of his voice I'd say, for I wasn't able to recognize him in other characters he did. Galadriel's (Kirsi Tarvainen) fiery and greedy mode towards the ring and the speech about it in my opinion was a little too long and lacked a proper rising, even though it was meant to come as a surprise. But the way she appeared from the ceiling, and the representation of the magic well with its projections was fantastic!

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
A glimpse of Sanna Malkavaara's projection design and Pirjo-Liiri Majava's costumes.

The audience is not left cold-- no, I'm not talking about the magnificent pyrotechnic ending, but the scene when the Orcs find their way to the stage from near the audience's seats. Also later, how Gollum climbs the wall of the audience as well. Many gasped! That is truly how you break the fourth wall and bring the audience back to the magic and the atmosphere of the story from the intermission, which the 4 hour show has three in total.

The Ents were a thing of their own: mindblowing! What a shame that we didn't have time or space on stage to see all of them in action, in a proper war against the Orcs. Nevertheless they surely made an impact to everyone.

The stage is lined with a giant half of a circle, which resembles the ring. Of course the text of the ring in the original Tolkien language is projected onto it in the beginning. Sanna Malkavaara designed the projections. The ring set also plays a vital part whenever the ring on the stage calls someone towards it: the set begins to change in shade or have movement on it, depending on the situation. Of course when the ring is not in the focus on stage, the ring set is projected with branches, brick wall, or whatever is needed. Very good.

Something that for sure could have stolen my soul if its gaze would have reached me was the Sauron's eye! Just go and see it for yourself, for there isn't even pictures of it online. It was far more than perfect. Markus Ilkka Uolevi's movements as the Mouth of Sauron, which is an original character from the book, not seen in the non-extended films, are fantastic and finely aristocrat, cocky and exaggerated.

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre
Just look at Markus Ilkka Uolevi as the Mouth of Sauron. Stay on the stage's side, please!

The Hobbits finally reach the end of their journey and find the smokey pit to destroy the ring. I just wondered why they didn't climb higher, on the top of the prop, but perhaps there would have been practical risks involved, we don't know. After all, the ending and destroying of the ring was totally worth waiting for. The falling of Gollum was also brought on stage. Something I would've wanted to hear in his screeches as he fell would have been a clear, final exclamation. Not a corny or loud gah, but perhaps a slight fading away of the shouts, a few moments when he knows he's going to die.

And then there's the ending when we return to the Shire and all is well. My friend thought that the change of the scene in the "a year has gone by", as Frodo said aloud, was too quick and incoherent, but in my opinion it was just excellent. If a character says, especially through writing a diary that a year has gone by, you don't need any change in lighting or scenography. To me it was smooth and fit in the overall pace.

All in all, The Lord of the Rings at the Turku City Theatre is ambitious, phenomenal and rich spectacle. Full of action scenes designed by Oula Kitti just leaves you amazed. The show touches with its beauty and brings to all kinds of places from Shire to Dark Caves of the Orcs. It's excellent in all levels and ends up being one of my favorite shows I've seen and reviewed so far!

I said it before: if you're even a little curious, book your tickets now and head to Turku! You won't be left cold-- and now I'm talking about the pyrotechnic at the end!

Photos: Otto-Ville Väätäinen
Article: Rosanna Liuski

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre

Review and photos: THE LORD OF THE RINGS mesmerizes at the Turku City Theatre

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