Mary Woodward at the Festivals

Receptionists- Summerhall – old Lab, Venue 26, Review

***** (5 stars)

“extraordinarily funny”

Receptionists is part of From Start to Finnish, an annual showcase of Finnish performing arts brought to the Fringe each year since 2011.

As we enter the theatre, two young women in green waistcoats and white shirts stand behind a reception desk, seemingly frozen in time.  Ting!  A bell sounds, and they snap into action, glossy smiles at the ready, as they wait to greet us.

Terve ja tervetuloa hotellissa Tähti!   [That’s all the Finnish you’re going to get – and it’s not 100% correct, I’m sure – I’m still only on unit 2 of Duolingo…] 

Hallo and welcome to the hotel Star, a five star hotel where our receptionists are eager to assist you…

Now just sit back and laugh your way through an hour of near-wordless comedy from two extremely talented young women.  With a simple reception desk, telephone, bowl of fruit and the inevitable bell you slap firmly with your hand to go TING! they have their audience starting to laugh in the first sixty seconds.  What language there is, is inventive Unibabble, easy to understand.  The laughter is virtually non-stop, and at the final blackout the audience surges to its feet clapping and cheering, saluting the boundless talent on display before them.

The simplest things become howlingly funny – the smile slipping, the slow slide into a doze, fingers drumming on a desk, answering [or not] the telephone, keeping one’s appearance impeccably correct, folding a towel or creasing the end of a loo roll into a perfect V… The invention is mind-boggling and unending, the humour universal and kindly, the facial expressions exquisite, the physical contortions astounding, and the constant involvement of and attention to the audience engaging and delightful.

Authors/ performers Inga Björn and Kristiina Tammisalo present a hilarious look at the challenges of customer service and the effort it takes to keep that smile ever-bright and maintain the willingness to go that extra mile.  The concept is very simple and the execution superb, making the fiendishly complex seem absurdly easy: it’s a masterclass in physical comedy.

It’s absurd in the extreme

It’s extraordinarily funny

It’s brilliant

It’s a sell-out – hurry, get your ticket NOW!

[Warning – visiting a hotel may never be the same again…]

Receptionists- Summerhall – old Lab, Venue 26, for tickets go to: or direct from the venue


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