Reviews London TheatreOWE & FringeReviews Published 25 April 2018

Review: Yablochkov Candle at Jacksons Lane

April 19 - April 21

Collective sphincters being clenched: Aino Venna and Ilona Jantti’s cabaret circus doesn’t have quite the desired effect.

Anna Winter
Yablochkov Candle, Jacksons Lane. Photo: Kimmo Metsäranta.

Yablochkov Candle, Jacksons Lane. Photo: Kimmo Metsäranta.

Yablochkov Candle sounds like something my relatives might have smuggled out of Europe in the 1930s, along with the samovar and the family silver, but it’s actually a municipal light bulb, first used at the Paris Exhibition in 1878. Strings of these spherical lights are draped above the audience – most seated at round tables, cabaret-style – in Aino Venna and Ilona Jantti’s production, which aims to create a louche nightclub atmosphere, complete with world-weary chanson (by the former) and aerial performance (from the latter).

It’s certainly an intriguing idea and both are compelling performers. Jantti twists and contorts through the aerial hoop like an acrobatic eel, occasionally wistful, her legs slicing through splits at all manner of angles, while Venna’s deep vocal range is complemented by a nonchalant stage presence.

The audience aren’t immersed so much as automatically involved – depending on where they’re sat – by virtue of having a circus performer hovering above their heads, engaging in risky business. It’s impossible not to watch other viewers and to absorb the sense of collective sphincters being clenched as Jantti daringly rolls down a rope inches from a punter’s pate.

Herein lies a bit of Yablochkov Candle’s problem. It strives to create that Isherwood ambience – the tinkle of glass, the low murmur of bohemian conversation – but you can’t will a certain type of Weimar vibe into being, especially when the audience itself plays such a critical part. Yes, we’ve got the rise of fascism part on the go, but we don’t really have the idealised and elegant dissolution part, especially of an evening in Haringey, and probably because it only really exists in fiction. Assignations between beautiful androgynous youths weren’t being made while Venna strummed her guitar. Rather, the talk in the ladies’ bogs was of health and safety.

Yablochkov Candle was at Jacksons Lane until April 21st, as part of CircusFest 2018. For more details, click here.

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Anna Winter is a contributor to Exeunt Magazine

Review: Yablochkov Candle at Jacksons Lane Show Info


Directed by Aino Venna, Ilona Jantti

Cast includes Aino Venna, Ilona Jantti

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