Have kids early, do not take more than one slice of cake, and if you masturbate, at least be ashamed! These rules embedded into most of us, especially women, at a very young age form an integral part of our rationality. As these rules have their basis in societal norms, they often go against our animalistic instincts and desires. Saara Turunen’s play The Grapes of Reason (Järjen hedelmät) frames this complex relationship between reason and corporeal on stage: If you contort into social codes, you will not be embarrassed, but if you never allow yourself to experience pleasure, can you ever find true happiness?
The play is an episodic look into the denial of physicality. Through many different characters, scenes, and settings, the audience is shown multiple scenarios where the corporeal and the rational clash, thus further distancing the human from the animal within. Although there is no plot and little dialogue in the play, every look, movement, and action, is carefully written. However, there is still plenty of room for interpretation, as the audience is encouraged to see themselves in the presented situations and reflect on how they might feel in similar instances.
The play does not offer a solution to this battle between corporal desire and reasoning: there are no victors nor happy endings. The clocks are always ticking on stage and in life; we all know that time is limited. Like the characters in the final scene, we are all going towards the dance macabre, towards death.
The issues displayed in the play are rooted so deeply that the first ones to be embarrassed by them are usually the characters themselves. They are also very contradictory, as shown by the character Childless Woman. She has refused the societal norm of having children but finds herself conforming to the capitalistic productivity norm instead. The play consists thus of a series of disjointed images divided by music, played roughly by five actors. It offers a plentiful variety of interpretational possibilities for both the audience and those wishing to produce it.
The Grapes of Reason is the third and final part of Turunen’s “Room-trilogy”. The first and second parts The Phantom of Normality (Tavallisuuden aave) (2016) and Medusa’s Room (Medusan huone) (2019), were both performed at the Q-Teatteri, where this last part also had its premiere in September of 2022. All three were translated into English by Nely Keinänen. Although the plays share similar stylistic choices and themes, they have no continuing storyline between them, so all three can be performed as stand-alone pieces as well.
Number of Roles: 5+