Helga – Life of Diva Extraordinaire ****

Dance, Physical Theatre and Circus

C Royale

Venue 58

13.30 (run ends 27th Aug, not 14th, 21st)

 

 An old woman shuffles onstage, muttering wordlessly to herself.  She is dressed in scarlet and purple, has improbably blonde bubble curls, enormous spectacles with rose-tinted lenses, and the make-up of a white-faced clown – dead white face and garish red lips.

 

Helga is a tragi-comic figure at whom I found it impossible to laugh as she hunted through the newspapers which littered her flat for a tiny item which she tore out and added to a bulging book of press cuttings and shuffled back and forth to the coffee pot, frequently choosing instead to sup a wee dram…

 

Suddenly she had slipped behind a screen to emerge in a more daring costume – and, after flirting invitingly but hesitantly with a man on the front row of the audience, launched herself at a trapeze dangling from the ceiling, and coiled her way around it in a way which provoked amazement and admiration – all the time without losing her rose-coloured spectacles.  She resumed her ‘old’ garb and wordlessly remembered the child she reared – who grew up and left her; the cat she adopted – which also grew to an enormous, tiger-like size – and then left her…  She puts on a coat and goes out, maybe to an old folk’s club where she performs her aerial routine, somewhat hampered by her body’s lack of flexibility, but still endeavoring to enchant the gentleman on the front row.  When she gets home, she discovers a postcard among the newspapers on the floor and sets about preparing for a visitor – but as the lights fade, we see her sitting at the table waiting, and wonder whether she is yet again doomed to disappointment: a Diva Extraordinaire who continues to look at life through her rose-tinted spectacles, without a shred of self-pity.

This was a splendid performance from circus artist Henni Kervinen: I hope I have even half Helga’s style and élan as I advance towards the dying of the light…!

Mary Woodward