Lahto review at Platform Theatre, London – ‘ingenious visual trickery’
An evening meal becomes a wordless passive-aggressive ritual for an unhappy couple in Finnish company WHS’s evocative Lahto (“departure”), part of the London International Mime Festival. The man squelches peas under a fork; the woman lets a knife clatter onto her plate, pointedly. Sourness and boredom are concealed behind coughs and the insistent click of a lighter. Cigarettes and wine are consumed in a desultory fashion. An attempt at conciliatory touch tentatively falls away.
Clearly it’s curtains for this relationship, the final act of which is played out in a series of visual metaphors that involve, fittingly enough, a pair of stage-sweeping blue-grey curtains. The pair struggle separately with pullies as the drapes sag and buckle. Elsewhere they stagger through swathes of the fabric like it’s an ice-cold sea the consistency of molasses.
This is a piece that plays cleverly with distance and intimacy, conjuring up the changing emotional textures of a relationship. A video projection onto the aforementioned curtains shows a scene of curious tenderness focussed around an earlobe, but its fleshy, breathy familiarity takes on a strange concrete hardness against the cloth. Stagnation is made graphic in an extraordinary sequence in which the couple face each other over the dining table again, the surface of which is covered – along with their bodies – in a sticky grey putty. Caught in this congealed stuff, the pair embrace and retreat.
While this gloomy affair occasionally feel one-note – the denouement is also a tad clunky – the bleakness is offset by its feats of ingenious visual trickery.