…above all, it is a verbal and visual firecracker.
– Annikki Alku, Demokraatti
Heiskanen is certainly not taking the path of least resistance.
– Jussi Tossavainen, Helsingin Sanomat
Simo Heiskanen’s puppet theatre musical Raxu Taskunen is a show in which all the characters are played by Heiskanen himself. The story of the musical swirls from one continent to the next, from the face of the earth and underground and back – all to the beat of exhilarating rhymes and intimate songs.
The world is viewed by Raxu Taskunen, a small critter who can easily fit in a pocket. Raxu is always hungry. He is a witty and lively but lazy personality who tries hard to avoid boring things, like going to bed early or eating healthy food.
The show is suitable for children from 3 to 8 years and their families. It is performed in Finnish, but those who are learning Finnish can enjoy it, too.
Raxu Taskunen does school and kindergarten tours and can be booked for private gatherings. The performance can be put up almost anywhere (required space for the scenery is 3x2m) and no stage lighting is necessary.
SIMO HEISKANEN’S DISARMINGLY FUNNY RAXU TASKUNEN
Annikki Alku, Demokraatti, 3 December 2018
Raxu Taskunen is a little and quite endearing furry creature who loves pockets and puffs. Raxu, created by Simo Heiskanen of the Espoo-based Glims & Gloms theatre, has adventures from one pocket to the next. Sometimes he ends up in the sewers while escaping secret detective Hönttönen and finds a friend, cockatoo Rudolf, from the other side of the world, in Australia. Raxu Taskunen is written, composed, directed and performed by Heiskanen, and it was grandiosely defined as a puppet theatre musical. The performance that can fit in almost any room, is indeed a musical with all its songs of different styles, but above all it is a both verbal and visual firework.
The glowing traditional puppet theatre scene created by Anne Aario and Nina Ukkonen resembles an oriental fairy tale. The hand puppets and finger puppets are colourful and resourcefully imaginative. They radiate fairy tale magic.
THE PUPPET MUSICAL WRITTEN AND PERFORMED BY SIMO HEISKANEN EDUCATES AND ENTERTAINS
Jussi Tossavainen, Helsingin Sanomat, 3 May 2019
DANCE THEATRE Glims & Gloms’ Simo Heiskanen is a true Renaissance man from Espoo. He dances, acts, writes scripts, composes and sings. Raxu Taskunen is a leap into the world of puppet theatre. Almos everything is done by Heiskanen.
The work is described as puppet theatre musical. This is certainly not a big musical, as institutional theatres tend to call their musicals nowadays. Everything is small, doll-size.
The whole performance can almost be fitted in a pocket, and what could be more fitting when the main character is called Taskunen, ”Pockets”, and he lives and travels in people’s pockets.
The compact performance does not call for a lot of space or resources. Raxu Taskunen has been performed in a shopping mall, and a kindergarten tour is planned for the autumn.
The word ”musical” is catch-all here. The almost throughout sung puppet fun is perhaps closer to modern opera.
Heiskanen does not follow the path of least resistance. The reciting and winding music does not offer clear melodies or catching earworms. Hearing it for the first time, its is pointless to try to recall ”arias” or hits.
Simo Heiskanen plays all roles by himself. Raxu Taskunen himself is a hybrid of a hand and a finger puppet – a likeable but undefinable hairy creature, whose passion and bad habit is puffs.
He avoids boring things, like going to bed early or eating healthy food. His worst enemy is secret detective Hönttönen who presents himself as a moralist and who is a tedious person in general.
The state of affairs is clear. Children love anarchic characters who are against authorities and grown-ups, from Pippi Longstocking to the Moomins.
However, Heiskanen’s script has a modern and important educational and enlightening tone.
In Australia, Taskunen experiences a conversion with the help of cockatoo Rudolf (my favourite character in the performance) and learns to eat grains and nuts instead of salty and greasy puffs. He does not shun greens either any more.
Heiskanen does not overexplain or preach like a health evangelist. The theme is barely introduced and followed through during the short performance.
One might have finger-wagged more without losing credibility. Things are understood when a little creature acts as an example.
In his text, Heiskanen uses funny rhyming and nonsense that is considered agreeable to children. Some comments might only be understood by adults even though the charmingly homespun performance with all its conventions is clearly directed to children.
One could very well add a discussion on the theme.
SIMO HEISKANEN’S AMPLY MEANDERING SOLO WORK IN A SHOPPING MALL SWEEPS THE SPECTATORS IN A WORLD OF PUFFS AND RHYMES
Anniina Karhu, Turun Sanomat, 15 September 2019
It’s fun that in a shopping centre like Skanssi, you can between shopping – or even especially – make a visit to a theatre. The Espoo-based dance company Glims & Gloms got the idea to brighten up empty commercial premises by offering artistically ambitious professional theatre in an easily accessible form.
In Turku until the 29th, it is possible to throw oneself into the bizarre world of Raxu Taskunen. The hairy creature is greedy for salty and greasy puffs, which he looks for in different kinds of pockets. Raxu’s speedy adventure takes the spectator from pockets to deep sewers and from there, through the drain trap all the way to Australia.
The solo work by Simo Heiskanen, who is mainly known as a choreographer, is ample and meandering. The ampleness comes from elements of story-telling and verbal expression, but also from puppets and many expressive characters. Besides Raxu, an individual gallery of characters appears on the stage. Their roles vary from adversary to helper.
The clever rhyming of songs offers the spectators many fun moments of insight. Even a stealthy lesson is hidden in the package: healthy eating habits and regular bed times pay off. Thoughtless pursuit of instant pleasure will, by contrast, often prove harmful.
Heiskanen’s gestic expression is eloquent and precisely accentuated. Even for the songs that play with different styles, he finds a wide scale of tones.