Theatre review: Sisu

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There’s something oddly charming about this slight but winningly performed show that in some ways appears as if it were sponsored by Finland’s Tourist Board.

Star rating: ***

Venue: theSpace at Surgeons Hall (Venue 53)

For a start, it bears all the hallmarks of a very personal show yet the script is credited to producer Clara-Nel Haddon and not its Finnish actress Satu Pihlstrom who proves an unusually commanding stage presence. The title Sisu is suomi for “guts” – as in determination – and she certainly displays that as well as a enthusiastically eclectic nature.

Rummaging around in her grandmother’s attic, Satu holds forth on her love of Sibelius, the Moomins, salted liquorice, wolves and all things Finnish. There are unusual personal details about her parents’ divorce and she even – quite unexpectedly – sings a Korean pop song extremely well.

This really shouldn’t work and occasionally doesn’t – the excursions into Finnish military history tend to bring the show to a halt but it’s weirdly compelling almost in spite of itself.

At times it feels as if Satu is a child again, playing dress-up with granny’s old clothes and dreaming her adult life into being rather than reflecting upon it.

In some respects she’s like Finland, “the country with more trees than people”; a small, remote voice but uniquely interesting.

Until 27 August. Today 7:15pm.

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