The Sauna is a gentle, amusing and often enchanting mime piece about womanhood, about the innocence of maidenhood, the nubile sensuality of the mature woman and the arthritic trials of a dessicated old age.
While saunas are a place of spirits in Finnish mythology, here the sauna is the backdrop that helps the performers focus intently on changes to the female body, expressed with the help of clever costumes, flesh-coloured body-stockings that playfully reveal everything, from slender waists and firm breasts, through rounded buttocks and rolls of middle-aged fat to the dropping dugs, bunions and stiff angularity of the old lady.
It is a modest production that focuses attention on the excellent and beautifully underplayed performances of the three actresses, and the engaging masks. The music and sound effects are the unifying factor, evoking the isolation of a rural winter, the birdsong that parallels the chortling of spring in human veins, and especially the sounds of water, hissing as it hits the hot stones, lapping against fingers, splashing and tinkling in an otherwise silent solitude.
The plot is simple: the spirit of the Sauna is intent on bringing a lonely old woman back from the brink by reminding her of her own life. In its simplicity, this performance invites a calm reflection on life itself, lived through the body; it invites us to enjoy each stage of our lives as women, the simple sensualities and pleasures of the flesh that still can be enjoyed, even in old age.
Reviewer: Jackie Fletcher