A Swede, a Finn and an Icelander walk onto a stage. No, it’s not the start of a joke but it is the beginning of an excellent hour of entertainment at Jacksons Lane to mark the launch their Nordic Exposure season. From the moment we heard that there was going to be a festival dedicated to Nordic circus and theatre we knew this was right up our street (or our vägen if you will – Mummy is currently learning Swedish on Duolingo and is pleased to have an opportunity to practise it so do please humour her.) And as soon as the trio stepped onto the stage in their Nordic knitwear, and proceeded to bring out a range of IKEA branded paraphernalia (including a four square Kallax unit wheeled in on a little blue IKEA trolley) it became apparent that this was, indeed, going to be mycket bra!
Three Men from the North is performed by Merri Heikkilä (Finland), Jakob Jacobsson (Sweden), and Bjarni Àrnason (Iceland), who formed The Nordic Council whilst studying at Codarts Circus Arts in Rotterdam. It’s a beautifully polished, quirky celebration of Nordic culture which showcases an incredibly impressive array of circus skills including juggling, silky diabolo skills, stunning aerial rope work and an almost indescribable balancing act involving the aforementioned Kallax unit. (Here at The Family Stage we are strangely obsessed with the IKEA Kallax range, to the extent that all you really need to do is pop some arrows on the floor in our house and you could be mistaken for believing that you were in IKEA.) And as if that wasn’t enough, there is also music from a smörgåsbord of instruments including an accordion, a melodica, a kazoo and even a teeny tiny piano. And some very special singing!
Not only does the show celebrate the mighty Kallax in all its boxy glory, it also provides the answers to some of life’s great mysteries such as:
(1) Is it possible to solve a Rubik’s cube in the time it takes to put together an IKEA stool?
(2) Is is possible to put together an IKEA stool in the time it takes to brew cafetiere coffee?
The humour is very Nordic, combining Icelandic eccentricity with the darker, more sarcastic Swedish and Finnish tendencies. While much of the show is non-verbal, the section which had most of the audience crying with laughter was the story of ‘Finland Man’, a hilariously blunt take on Finnish stereotypes. (Having spent an evening in a Finnish karaoke bar we can confirm that this segment of the story was very true to life!)
What makes this production so special is the way in which it’s been expertly crafted into a cohesive (if bonkers) body of work. It’s not just a case of chucking together a series of different circus tricks and slapping on a backing track. The different strands are beautifully woven together like a Nordic jumper. And when all the hard work is done, how else could it possibly end but with the performers sitting down (on their newly assembled stools) for a good old kop kaffee? Perfekt.
Mummy keeps saying she wants to move to Sweden and last night did nothing to convince her that this is a bad idea, but she reckons she’ll probably stick around in the UK at least while the Nordic Exposure season runs at Jacksons Lane. If you’d like to join her, check out what else is on (for all ages) at: https://www.jacksonslane.org.uk/whats-on/all-performances/
Three Men from the North played at Jacksons Lane for one night only on 9 March 2022. We received a complimentary ticket in return for a review.