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Helga – Life of Diva Extraordinaire review at C South, Edinburgh – ‘performed with precision timing’

Henni Kervinen in Helga – Life of Diva Extraordinaire. Photo: Anssi Jokiranta Henni Kervinen in Helga – Life of Diva Extraordinaire. Photo: Anssi Jokiranta
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The Kallo Collective are well known in Finland for its provocative physical theatre and circus pieces. For Helga – Life of Diva Extraordinaire, performer Henni Kervinen calls upon her skills in circus, mime and clowning to explore the history of a pensioner.

At first glance, Helga is fairly unremarkable if a little game, nipping at the whisky bottle while examining the newspaper. A postcard arrives to remind Helga of an imminent visitor and in the flurry to prepare herself, she revisits her past as a trapeze star in cabaret.

Without a word spoken, Kervinen transports us into Helga’s life and through repetition and fluent mime skills, we witness how her life changed. As a single mother, she gave up the stage to raise her son and when he leaves home, she devotes her time to her pets.

It’s a bittersweet tale, eloquently explored and the triumph is to see Helga return to the trapeze as an old woman. Her body won’t work in the way she hopes, but her spirit won’t give up.

Directed by Kallo Collective artistic director Jenni Kallo and complemented by a thoughtful design from Kirsi Manninen, Helga is poetic in its structure with a heart-warming message of hope at its core.

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Thoughtfully constructed tale performed with precision timing