The IKEA KALLAX shelving unit stands at 77 centimetres high. With four square shelves and a variety of muted colours, it’s one of those IKEA pieces you’ll find at probably every single house in Scandinavia. That said—it usually holds books and knick-knacks. You probably haven’t seen it used for acrobatic stunts and ballet choreography, but that’s exactly what audiences found at “Three Men From The North”—one of the biggest hits of this year’s Reykjavík Fringe Festival.
The show was made by the Nordic Council—a circus troupe composed of juggler Merri Heikkilä from Finland, Swedish aerialist Jakob Jacobsson, and resident Icelandic circus guru Bjarni Árnason. The group won the coveted Grapevine Prize at the 2021 Reykjavík Fringe awards, but the show is so fantastic we’d happily write about them, award or no award.
“It’s a tableau of things that we as Northerners have in common,” Jakob says, distilling the circus performance down into a few words. “Adding to that, coming from the North means handling emotions and dealing with things in a certain way—there’s a precision and methodology there that we bring to the show.”
‘Three Men From The North’ journeys through many Nordic stereotypes, from the funny—a juggling act with accordion choreography—to the serious, such as a monologue about the plight of a repressed Finnish man accompanied by death-defying aerial stunts. No matter where you’re from, it’s a romp through the Nordics that invites you to giggle at those clichés—IKEA furniture, woolen sweaters, more IKEA furniture—that truly define the Nordic psyche.
But the humour of the show comes not only from their celebration (and sometimes mockery) of their own cultures, but the very actions of the men themselves. As a trio, they’ve integrated “mistakes” into their circus performances, adding a layer of humility and relatability that’s both unexpected and hysterical. While the audience is certainly duped the first time one drops a club or stumbles through a trick, once they get the wink-wink humour that each fumble is intentional, they begin to cheer at both the triumphs of their physical prowess, but also the moments when they fail.
Read the Full Article at The Reykjavik Grapevine
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