Kallo Collective’s physical comedy Receptionists appears in the Fringe as part of Start To Finnish, an annual showcase since 2011 to promote Finnish performing arts at the Edinburgh Fringe. Clowns and (show creators) Inga Bjorn and Kristiina Tammisalo star as two receptionists in a five-star hotel for whom every day actions, such as waiting for customers or answering the phone, quickly escalate into huge physical challenges and situations.
Taking a simple situation and wringing every ounce of physically comedic potential over an extended period of time is an art, and a difficult one. For proof of that, one need not look any further than Rowan Atkinson, a lifelong fan of comedians such as Jacques Tati, whose past classics such as Mr Bean haven’t stopped him more recently faltering with Netflix’s Man Vs Bee.
The solution Kallo Collective has found is to go bonkers with the set-up and use the premise as a jumping-off point for a variety of sketch-like routines involving hotel props (phones, towels, etc) music, a few audience members, and even some magic.
Through it all, the physical skill of the performers is evident and the ambition to do an entire comedy show in which words are nothing more than incidental is laudable, but it is somewhat held back by the lack of through-line and characterisation (the opposite issue of Man Vs Bee) to really it build into a cohesive show. However, the show contains many wonderful moments courtesy of its expressive, harmonising, and passionate creators, and a format we could do with more of at the Fringe.
Receptionists plays until August 28th at the Summerhall Old Lab, and tickets can be found at https://festival.summerhall.co.uk/events/receptionists/
Reviewer: Oliver Giggins
Reviewed: 4th August 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★