BWW Reviews: NORWAY PLAYS: DRAMA BEYOND IBSEN: No Doll's Life

BWW Reviews: NORWAY PLAYS: DRAMA BEYOND IBSEN: No Doll's LifeEgo Actus and Scandinavian American Theater Company (SATC) present the US Premiere of NORWAY PLAYS: DRAMA BEYOND IBSEN. The evening features two 70-minute one act plays by contemporary Norwegian playwrights, both of whom have won the prestigious Ibsen Award: THE RETURNING by Fredrik Brattberg (directed by Henning Hegland) and MORE by Maria Tryti Vennerød (directed by Joan Kane).

The evening is a fascinating one- first up was The Returning. Brattberg presents a Mother and Father (Ingrid Kullberg-Bendz and Andrew Langton) who are grieving the loss of their beloved teenage son Gustav. Father looks out the window and worries about the neighbor's dog, while Mother knits so much she's covered all available space in knitted cozys (Wonderful set/prop work by Starlet Jacobs). But then, a miracle as Gustav (Kristoffer Tonning) comes back! The family adjusts to being together again until Gustav dies again. And again, in various ways, metaphorically dramatizing the grieving process. A powerful work by Brattberg. Kullberg-Benz's performance is especially powerful.

After intermission was More. Vennerød's play is an examination of the celebrity of murderers. Young Ida (Christina Toth) and her friend Benedickte (Skyler Volpe) are friends playing by a lake (a startling children's slide dominates stage right), when in the middle of daring play, Benedickte drowns. Ida is questioned roughly by policemen Kristian (Chevy Kaeo Martinez) and Rune (Erik Schjerven), while pressure is put on them by the media, represented by Linn (Alexandra Cohen Spiegler) and Tormod (Ioan Ardelean), dressed as over-the-top clown entertainers. The play has something to do with the manufacture and sales of news-as-product, similar to the musical Chicago, though in this the murderer has no agency of her own and is bullied into confessing and representing the expected sensationalistic story demanded by an entertainment-saturated culture. An interesting but inconclusive script is given a great surreal polish by director Joan Kane, and Toth gives a harrowing performance in the main role.

NORWAY PLAYS: DRAMA BEYOND IBSEN runs November 9 - December 1. Performances are Tuesday - Friday at 7pm, Saturday at 2pm & 7pm, and Sunday at 2pm. (Note: no shows 11/9 at 2pm or on Thanksgiving 11/28.) Running time is 2 hours and 30 minutes including intermission. Theater for the New City is located at 155 First Avenue at 10th Street. Tickets are $30, available at 800-838-3006 or www.norwayplays.brownpapertickets.com.




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Duncan Pflaster Duncan Pflaster is an award-winning playwright whose plays have been produced all over. He also has been known to direct, write music, play the ukulele, and (if his arm is twisted) act. He won second place in the 2009 Stage and Cinema's New York City Theater Review Contest. www.duncanpflaster.com