Topical, beautiful and tragic – Kemiaa (Chemistry) is a play that goes under the skin
On Saturday, 21 October, Lappeenranta City Theatre premiered the contemporary American drama Kemiaa (Chemistry). Written by Jacob Marx Rice, the play has only been seen in a Finnish theatre once before. The award-winning play tells the love story of two young adults with mental health problems. The actors are Samuli Punkka and Aino Sirje. The play is directed by Helka-Maria Kinnunen.
“The play is outspoken, humorous and true to life. It is also topical. You can constantly read in the media about how people struggling with mental health problems don’t have access to the right kind of treatment or support,” Kinnunen says.
According to Kinnunen, what thrilled her in the script was the recognisability of the themes and the ingenious division between mania and depression. One of the characters in the play is manic and the other depressive.
“Despite the theme of mental health, the play is recognisable as a depiction of almost any relationship: people sometimes run at different speeds and take turns worrying about each other. You can view the play as a metaphor for a relationship: who supports whom and how.”
Kemiaa (Chemistry) is an intense drama by two actors that offers the audience a lot of direct speech, but in a humane and non-judgmental way. Aino Sirje, who plays Steph, says that she first read the text in one sitting, crying and laughing alternately.
“It’s enjoyable to do something that feels important and meaningful and features sharply humorous dialogue as a counterbalance for the heavy theme.”
“Getting to do an intimate drama of two actors has been a dream of mine for a long time,” Aino continues.
The set was designed by Miska Siikaluoma, who tried to reproduce the emotional states of the performance on the stage.
“My aim has been to depict different mindscapes, as I personally see the theme of the performance, mental health. How it varies and how its weight is shaped in the mind.”
Lappeenranta City Theatre cooperates with the Mieli Etelä-Karjalan mielenterveys association in connection with the play. During some of the performances, Mieli has a worry chair in the foyer, where you can sit down to share your worries and lighten your mind by talking with a trained crisis support volunteer.
The following performances are subtitled in English: Thursday, 23 November at 19:00, Saturday, 16 December at 13:30, and Thursday, 11 January at 19:00.
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