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Ismo Leikola: Observing the Obvious - review

May 11, 2016 Theatre

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He’s bewildered, is Ismo Leikola. He’s bemused by the subtleties of the English language and confused by the cultural differences between his homeland and countries he’s been. And such is the bafflement engendered by his wife; she might as well be both a foreign country and an alien language.

The Finnish performer has built a show on such differences and in mining that divide he uncovers rich comedic pickings. Needless to say, he was confused before he even got to New Zealand, losing a day in flight on the way. “They say smoking takes days off your life but no, it’s coming to New Zealand that does.”

He gets considerable mileage from the many misunderstandings caused by his accent which, no doubt the surprised pharmacist from whom he recently requested something “fuck off” (“for cough”) would concur. Laughs spring, too, from his wife’s impenetrable passions for cleaning, skincare products and baubles. All this is delivered in a likeable, affable and mildly shambolic manner in keeping with his rumpled, innocuous persona.

The laidback style is a mirage, of course – throwaway lines scattered through the closing stages of the show give sweetly subtle nods to themes and characters he’s referenced earlier. He does this so seamlessly that we laugh with delight, as if he’s given us crumb-like clues to his cleverness: We see what you’re doing there, Ismo, and we’re right there with you.

Near the start of his show, Leikola informs us it contains 24 observations, five suggestions, seven points, three ideas and two notes. Wisely, he doesn’t put a number on the laughs, perhaps because there are too many to count.

Observing the Obvious, until May 14, The Classic. Book tickets.

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