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  • Flora Gosling

Review: Receptionists (Summerhall)

Updated: Jul 28, 2023

A delightful dose of silliness

Photo Credit: Bambu

Two clowns play receptionists in a hotel. They are scared of customers. A description like that sells itself, doesn’t it? Finnish clowns Inga Björn and Kristiina Tammisalo are the creators and performers in this frantic physical comedy set in the highly professional and definitely not at all chaotic Star Hotel. The concept is perfectly placed to appeal to anyone who has ever worked in customer service, anyone who is usually on the receiving end of five-star customer service, and families who want to see something the grown-ups will actually enjoy as well.

The performance comprises of sketches; fighting over who answers the phone, finding and adjusting a neck scarf (otherwise known as a “flibbity”), and demonstrating how NOT to fold a towel into a swan. If you think you will get bored, I’ll tell you now: you won’t. Each sketch is so creative that it resists any threat of monotony or predictability. Even though they all centre on physical comedy, and contain no coherent words, as soon as the music starts at the beginning of each sketch you find yourself itching to find out what will happen next.

The reason it is so effective is down to Bjorn and Tammisalo, who are both bursting at the seams with energy, but another reason is the level of production quality. It’s in the costumes by Gemma Tweedie, in the sound design by Esko Mattila, and in the unparalleled confidence with which Bjorn and Tammisalo speak absolute gibberish. It communicates such confidence that when they invite down audience members to play “guests” you know that you are in safe hands. It takes a bold pair of performers to commit to a premise as simple as this, and even though their antics will probably put you off from checking in, this is still a show well worth checking out. Four stars.

Whispers from the crowd: "Hilarious." "It is like nothing I have seen before." "It's nothing you expect to see on TV, but you should."

Receptionists will run at Summerhall in the Old Lab until August 28th

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