OMNIPOTENS REVIEWS

HE IS STILL HERE

Minna Tawast, Theatre&Dance Magazine, 3/2016

 

Tuomo Railo steps on the stage dressed in a brown trench coat and dark trousers. A row of footlights glows at the back of the stage. Railo takes a position like a runner’s starting position and begins to talk. The talking goes on until the end of the 77-minute performance.

 

The dark space with a “hill” put together of different surfaces in a back corner, a chair and a flight of gray steps leading nowhere and the lights sparingly targeted at Railo bring distantly into mind the world of Chaplin's film Modern Times. That ”modern” criticizing industrialization and the mechanization of man was in the 1930's, but even now, the same kind of care can be felt for the little people disappearing in the wheels of money and power.

 

Later, a huge metallic straw mobile pipe is built on stage: a mental structure, a state of mind, the society. In Omnipotence, everything signals a desire of controlling, a rigid world view without nuances. Railo's moustached, slightly Hitler-like official speaks of a man whose name he does not want to say. This man murdered 77 people in Oslo and on the island of Utøya in Norway.

 

Railo studied carefully the mass murderer's background, read his Hannah Arendt and Åsne Seierstad and, for example, read about imperial Russia's extermination strategies for Jews. These do not, more than the attempts to understand the logic of terror or the motives of an individual killers' motives offer any satisfying answer for the agonized question why. And we have our endless questions.

A STRONG STATEMENT ON THE INSANITY OF MAN

Annikki Alku, Demokraatti.fi 5.4.2016

 

Omnipotens is the final part of Tuomo Railo's trilogy on the different sides of humanity for dance theater Glims & Gloms. The previous parts of the trilogy were Sore point (Arka paikka) in 2011 and Quartet for the end of Time (Aikojen lopun kvartetto) in 2013.

 

This piece which premiered in the Louhi hall of Espoo Cultural Center is absolutely the most serious and the heaviest of the three. The performance has a societal and political point of view, but it does not in the least provoke or agitate. It is reflective and thoroughly finished. Everything that is said using words or movement displays versatile thinking and a power of expression rising from it.

 

This conceptual thoroughness gives the performance a calm pulse that both supports the performance and catches the audience’s unrelenting attention.

 

Omnipotens is a person who believes that his truth is the only correct one. This entitles him to dominate and control others all the way to violence and terror. Railo discusses this sense of omnipotence through Anders Behring Breivik and his actions. A part of the background material, which is quoted in the performance, is Hannah Arendt's book The Origins of Totalitarianism.

 

Structurally, the piece is comprised of two very different parts that are, however, tied together in a very natural way. There is Railo's impersonal and clear speaker in black using simultaneous movements together with words.

OAPT REFLECTIONS ON UTOYA AND VIOLENCE

Tove Djupsjöbacka, Hufvudstadsbladet 2.4.2016

 

I have not often seen a scenic piece commenting the present as perceptively as the dance group Glims & Gloms does in Omnipotens.

 

This is point-blank – terrorism, totalitarian states, marginalization, violence, and a certain Norwegian whom the performance chooses not to call by his name even if his story is the thread running through the piece. These are not exactly perky themes, but the piece really manages to persuade the audience to think. It does not become a political, shouting manifest but a poetic interpretation of our time and its problems.

 

I like the touch right from the beginning. Tuomo Railo is responsible for the script and the choreography, and he himself carries the whole performance as a kind of master of ceremonies. This is physical theater with finesse and text interpretation that is calm and professional throughout. At times Railo spices up the text with more activities, sometimes the movements become more delicate. Sometimes he joins the dance group, but still goes on with the monologue. The physical flow of the choreography together with quotes by Hannah Arendt – not exactly an easy combination!

 

Compelling dancers

The master of ceremonies functions in parallel with the dance group. The group’s interpretation of the text is suitably abstract with slight references in details here and there, for example using military movements. The four dancers are convincing. They form an even and compatible group. Sakari Saikkonen is one of the stalwarts of Glims & Gloms who masters liikekieli with strength, while Jori

Still, Railo will not give up. He demands of us and of himself that we accept the fact that evil exists and it cannot be understood. At the same time, he shows our compulsive need to find explanations as well as our helplessness in front of this paradox. He goes on speaking and hopes that we would tell him stop before his desire to be right sucks out all oxygen.

 

Railo speaks as himself and as a mass murderer, and he finds links between the worlds of art and terror. At the same time he moves: slow, robotic movements and some physical forms that represent emotions. Naive, perhaps - or possibly supportive to the world of the performance. Halfway through the performance four dancers come in wearing white. They are the people, others, the dead – they are the others whom Railo's character occasionally joins detaching himself to fulfill the mission he set for himself.

 

Omnipotens is an extraordinary piece even within the multifold canon of modern dance. It acknowledges the cultural dominance of speech and verbal analysis, but also shows its limitedness. It appeals to me with its helpless honesty, too. It does not try to be smart, but it spreads the pawns in front of us and says: play better.

 

Omnipotens is the final part in Tuomo Railo's trilogy on the theme of the dimensions of humanity. The previous parts were Sore Point (Arka paikka) in 2011 and Quartet for the End of Time (Aikojen lopun kvartetto) in 2013.

There is also an intense group of dancers – Jori Kaksonen, Sakari Saikkonen, Jussi Väänänen and Mirva Väänänen, whose movements communicate emotions, thoughts and the regularities of human behavior as well as the will to be a part of a group.

 

Even if the theme of the piece is in itself heavy – the incomprehensible act of terror on the island of Utøya in Norway and the 77 victims - the performance itself is not. Here and there, especially at the beginning, one can detect a nuance of self-irony in Railo’s text. Even the language of movement of the choreography, using the body in a versatile way, is agile and extrovert rather than constrained or heavy.

 

The dark stage space is made rhythmical by different platforms and the central visual element of the latter part becomes (even concretely) the giant white straw mobile maze put together by the dancers. The music is Eija Kankaanranta's (concert kantele) and Esa Pietilä's (saxophone) live contemporary music composed for the performance by Juhani Nuorvala. At times the music fades into near non-existence, but all in all, it gives the performance a clear sound frame.

 

Omnipotens does not give definitive answers to the questions it asks, and it does not want to do it either. But it does have an opinion and a stand, and it also wants to stir the spectator to think and act so that Utøya, Paris or the Third Reich's Berlin's incidents will not recur.

Kaksonen is a new and skillful acquaintance for me - slightly more lyrical. Mirva Väänänen has a strong charisma in her dancing, and it is the first time that I see Jussi Väänänen in a piece without the smallest reference to competitive ballroom dancing (except for a few bars of waltz), which he masters excellently.

 

Music plays an important role in the whole. It is discrete and supports the text for the most part, but still Juhani Nuorvala manages to create a meaningful composition. The combination of the concert kantele and the saxophone is a creative one. Eija Kankaanranta's and Esa Pietilä's experienced hands bring forth everything from pleasant dreamlike ambience to gloomy screams. The special sound of the kantele makes one sense that things are a little bonkers. And this does suit the theme of the piece like a glove.

 

Tuomo Railo talks directly to the spectators right from the beginning, challenging them. He asks resourceful questions and draws interesting parallels to the world of art. The textual content is so strong that one can hardly take in everything, but each person chooses which questions sink deepest at the moment. The dramaturgy is wise and thoughtful, and after the essay-like text it feels very pleasant to be able to move into a more linear life story, how tragically scary it is. When we reach Utøya, I dry a tear. The end is cleverly designed. After all, what are we afraid of?

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