My cousin and I were walking along Tõnismägi tänav on a cool Monday night last September, on our way to the small theatre housed in the National Library of Estonia, and as we walked, she told me about the performance we were just about to see. Teater Varius, as the group is known in Estonia, is a small theatrical company which specialises in performing plays with historically-true settings.
The theatre is located in the basement of the library and seats about 70‒80 people. We walked along the corridor on the ground ﬂoor of the library and ran into a crowd of people also on their way to see the performance. The audience that night seemed to be mainly middle-aged and from all walks of life. Soon the theatre was full, the lights dimmed and the curtains parted, revealing the stage which had now been transformed into the studio of a radio station. I remembered seeing a mention that the play was set in 1944.
If you have ever seen how a magician opens his show, and how, with the wave of his wand and a sprinkle of stardust over the audience, he transforms the whole night into a totally magical experience, you will have some idea about what happened next.
The setting for the play was the studio of a radio station in Tallinn in 1944, the time when many Estonians were preparing to escape from the armies about to invade their homeland. I quickly understood,
however, that it was more of a cabaret than a serious play. The fun began as the actors sang, danced and joked their way through the opening scenes. I had the thought that my parents would really have enjoyed this play, and had they seen it, they would probably have felt both happy and sad at the same time while being transported back to the time of their youth.
Then the ﬁrst act was over, and I was doubtful that the magic spell that had been cast by the actors in the ﬁrst half could be repeated in the second half. They had talked, joked and argued with each other in such a realistic and totally believable way, and at times had been mischievous too ‒ a rare talent indeed! Later, when I discovered the pedigree of the performers, I understood how they had been able to do it.
So the second half began, and to my surprise, I saw even more magic ‒ but this you would have to see for yourself to begin to understand! I have seen many plays and cabaret shows, and this one was equal to the best. A short way into the second act, the setting changed from life in Estonia to life in Sweden. And then, sitting in this little theatre in Tallinn, I then heard Arthur Caldwell’s announcements, and they were a huge surprise to me. I shook my head in wonder. I felt as if I was in the past of my parents, in their life, hearing their songs, asking their questions… Wow!!Then the performance ended.
The audience clapped, and clapped, and clapped. The cast took many curtain calls. What more is there to say? If you look at my photo with the cast you will see the stardust on me.
Helisev Viis is the name of the play, and Teater Varius is the name of the group. In the words of an old favourite song ‒ ‘life is a cabaret’ for them. Reviews of the performance are on the internet. I recommend the one in the Eesti Päevaleht newspaper from Sweden.
Lots of fun and laughter, song and dance, and memories from our past. Bravo to an exceptionally talented cast and thank you for a night of magic.
Rex Urmas Rattur
Memories of a wonderful night in Tallinn
Meie Kodu: 19th January 2011