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Archive for the ‘Theater’ Category

The Cherry Orchard

As you can see in my previous posts I just love going to the theatre. A theatrical experience almost never fails to thrill me. Last season I went to see 14 plays! But this year, my boyfriend pointed out that I didn’t have time for as many so I only have 5 shows planned for this season. I find it likely that I’ll be able to squeeze some more in my tight schedule… fingers crossed.

A few weeks ago I saw the first play of the season. The play was The Cherry Orchard in Borgarleikhúsið theatre. The play is written by Anton Chekhov, a Russian playwright. The play is really a tragedy but it is performed in a comical way. I know that might sound confusing but there really is no better way of putting it – the plot is tragic while there is a lot of life in the play. The story is about a family that is losing its estate and the old and beautiful cherry orchard that is on it, due to debt and squandering of money. It starts with the return of Madame Lyubov to her home, but she has been abroad for several years. Lyubov is a sad woman that has survived a great loss in her life. Although she is about to lose her home she thinks of herself as rich and loves spending money on beautiful things for herself and her daughters, expensive wine and she also gives money (she doesn’t have) to those in need. Time and time again, mr. Lopakhin tries to help her help herself but she doesn’t listen to him. She is not a bad person, she just doesn’t realize how bad things are or realizes but doesn’t care. Other memorable main characters are her daughters Varya and Anya who have subplotted love-affairs or lack of love affairs. Also the old, and slightly crazy, servant of Madame Lyubov’s brother and the disaster prone clerk, who is never far away. I read somewhere that the characters are all symbolization of different forces in the rise of the middle-class in Europe and while that is an interesting view, I know nothing about the situation in Russia in the beginning of the 20th century so I just enjoyed the story as it was presented for me.

So, what made this experience great? The music in the show played a big part for me. There were three musicians that appeared on stage, the characters did not hear them but in at least one scene they could sence them. The musicians carried their instruments around, accordians, drums and even large bass instruments. The music was kind of… well Russian I guess… and really added a lot to the play. I loved the way the cherry orchard itself sounded when the “wind” blew through them. I did not particularly notice the lighting inside the house but outside it had a pink/purple glow that underlined the beuty of the orchard. The setting and props were beautiful, I especially liked the use of the hall. One thing I found weird was that the room where a most part of the play took part was the old nursery… they even held parties in there… so that’s a bit odd. One thing that I have to mention was the curtains. Instead of the normal velvety curtains of the theatre there were beautiful purple chiffon ones with different sorts of white crocheted lace doilies. They must have taken hours to finish and I heard that the producers asked women to make them and get tickets instead. That is awesome!

Overall a fun show that leaves you with something to think about – I can’t imagine that a single soul left the theatre untouched by the final scene… tsk tsk….  I’d recommend The Cherry Orchard for all adults who are not afraid to try something else than comedy in the theatre. I give it 4 stars.

Thank you for reading this post! I’m currently reading a great novel in which I learn a lot of life and flowers… stay tuned:)

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Nei ráðherra í Borgarleikhúsinu

A week ago I once more went to the theater, this time to see a farce that I had little expectations for. It’s called Out of order (Nei ráðherra!) and is written by Ray Cooney. A few of years ago I saw another play by him, Funny money (Viltu finna milljón) and I really liked that one so I thought Out of order would be great as well. Before it’s premiere it had been hyped up so I was excited to see it but I noticed that the hype was over quickly when people started to see the play. Normally I enjoy farces – they are maybe not the deepest or most meaningful plays around but they usually make you laugh and also the script is well written and the plot well thought out.

My boyfriend and I didn’t particularly like this one though. It’s about a minister in  a government who finds a dead guy in the window of the hotelroom where he is planning to engage in adultery. Normally a farce is built up the same way. Situations and characters are presented, something happens that needs some covering up and as the lies get more and more complicated the caracters get more and more desperate. My main criticism for Out of order is that the audience barely get to know the situation and the characters before the lies start. Only 5-10 minutes into the play the main character and some of the supporting characters get so neurotic that they are shouting out their lines as they run around the stage in panic.  The audience (me) was not ready for this type of frenzy so early on in the play.

The actors were okay and the characters had some funny quirks but it just felt like they were trying too hard. There really isn’t much to say about the lighting or use of sound. The stage was set up as a hotel suite and outside of it was a replica of two buildings in Reykjavik to show where the hotel was placed. The best use of the stage in my opinion was a window to the balcony that was constantly shutting down with a BANG. The best thing about the play was the Icelandic translation. The text was funny and the localization of it was well executed.

Maybe I’m too young to get this play or maybe I’m finally getting some class when it comes to theatre –  in any case I didn’t like this one very much. It gets 2 stars and I can’t really recommend it in itself. It’s always a fun night though to go to the theater.

I went to the theatre a few days ago. There… I did it! I finished the sentence without having to tell you which day. That’s perfect. If I don’t think about it at all it won’t get stuck on my mind. Stop looking at me like that… Oh alright I’ll say it: “FRIDAY!” Are you happy now? You all know what I’m talking about though, don’t you? That awful song just won’t leave me alone. And the worst part is that the song get’s more and more bearable each day:)

Anyhow… this post is not about Rebecca Black but about one of the best theatre experience I have ever had. I really don’t want to use the word “play” or “musical” because this one is so much more than that. It was originally a German children’s book, written by Heinrich Hoffman in the year 1845 (Der Struwwelpeter) and it contained rhymed stories and some really frightening pictures that showed children what happened to them if they were bad. In 1998 it was made into a “musical” where Tiger Lillies made the soundtrack. As soon as you buy your tickets you know that you are in for something unique as you get to know that you will be standing throughout the show.  

Strýhærði Pétur í Borgarleikhúsinu

I really don’t know if I will be able to do the experience justice… This was definetely the most awesome thing I have done this year! For me what stood out were the details in the production – everywhere you looked there was something new to see. The music was absolutely great. I have listened to the songs in English and the lyrics are great but the Icelandic translations were so perfectly written and perfectly in tune with everything else that I almost didn’t know what to do with myself (Lyrics are kind of my thing and more often than not I walk out of a show feeling certain that I would have done a better job than the translator). The actors were hilarious as their characters (specially the children). I remember thinking a couple of weeks ago that I was getting tired of seeing the same actors in so many productions but I take it back. We get to see the actors take on many roles and I noticed how talented Icelandic actors really have to be. Everything else in the play – the costumes, light and use of space had great design that really went well with the show.

I really have just one criticism. I was kind of looking forward to being more a part of the show since I was already on my feet. It would have been great to have the show a bit more interactive. Still I am telling everyone I know to go and see it and I am positive that I will go again! I give it 5 stars and would give it more if I could. Although it’s based on a childrens book it is definetely not for children so I recommend it for adults and teenagers.



King Lear

Posted on: 5.3.2011

In February I went to see “King Lear” in The National Theatre of Iceland. One of my favourite theatre buddies came along and we were excited to see the play and compare it to the other Shakespeare play we saw a while back “The Tempest”. I wrote about that one in my last post. This one was very long, with the break it was more than three hours but I sat through it without being bored.

King Lear is a tragedy about a king who is getting old and has to divide his kingdom to his three daugters. He decides that they will each get a share of his kingdom in portion with how much they love him. Since one of his daughters is not willing to promise to love only her father, she doesn’t inherit anything but her love for her father turns out to be greater than her sister’s.

I knew nothing of the story before I saw the play. The only thing I did know was that it was a tragedy and was written in early 17th century. I was surprised to see that I followed the text pretty well, there were one or two monologues that I didn’t understand word-by-word but I got the main idea.

In the opening scene the stage was filled with hundreds of red, blue and white helium balloons that were floating with strings some two meters in the air. I heard someone point out that the dresses of the three daughters were actually in these colors. Cordelia the youngest was wearing white and continued to do so throughout the play but the other sisters wore darker and darker outfits as the plot progressed. The balloons were used a lot throughout the play for various effects, they were used to show a party, comedy, as a hiding place, as sound-effects and even as they had all been blown up there were some limp balloons in one scene that indicated that ‘the party was over’.

I did not find the actors outstanding. The daughters were not very believable but I liked the performance of Arnar Jónsson as Lear. He was at times hard to understand but I sympathized with his characters. The play also had one of my favorite Icelandic actors, who was great here as always Eggert Þorleifsson.

The music was okay, a playback that was backed up by a live cello. I didn’t notice it being used very much for the purpose of adding something to the experience. I remember that sometimes I wondered about the lighting. It was usually great and eg. clearly indicated the difference between day and night. But there was one scene where the lights came all the way down and were very yellow and I didn’t see the point.

I cannot finish this post before I talk about the rain! There was pouring rain on the stage for full 40 minutes and it was beautiful, wet and cozy. I really loved to see that and it made this play a great experience. The only thing, me and my friend agreed on that one, was that sometimes you couldn’t hear the actors clearly through the splashing sounds of the rain. But mostly it was a great addition.

I will remember this play for a long time. It was very interesting and fun.  As with The Tempest I give the play four stars and would recommend to adults to seniors, theatre lovers.

That’s it for now

 

The Tempest

Posted on: 19.2.2011

It was a Thursday night a few weeks back and my friend and I went to the theatre. For her it was a sudden event as she got my boyfriend’s ticket as he was sick. I had had time to read a little about the plot of the play but she knew very little about it.

The play we saw was Shakespeare’s, The Tempest or Ofviðrið in Icelandic. In a few words the play is about a duke and his daughter who have been stranded on an island where no man lives but one man/creature. The duke is kind of a wizard and has a spirit who helps him make a very bad weather so his brother and other people are lured to the island.

As you may have seen in my earlier posts, I don’t need much to be impressed by theatre. I consider it a gift to be able to enjoy a good show without the need to point out all the negative things about it. This play was no exeption and enjoyed this play. I was a little worried that the text would be to difficult to understand and there would be hard to follow the plot, but I found it easy to follow.

The actors were good and the dancers were a great addition to the cast. The dancers were masqued and as a sat real close to the stage I almost felt like a part of the show when they were dancing. The stage and props looked great and seemed to be very well designed. It had been set up like a castle with a stage in the middle, and sometimes the actors were using metacognition by acting in a play in the play. Finally the costumes were glamourous and beautiful and really added to the whole experience.

This was a very fun night, moderately long play and really fun to watch. I give it four stars and would recommend to adults to seniors, theatre lovers but I wouldn’t advise any group to limit themselves because it really is for almost anyone.

C U L8ER

On December 30th I went to the theater (Þjóðleikhúsið) with two of my closest people (who also happen to be my most devoted readers). As an Icelandic teacher I was really excited to see this particular play Iceland’s Bell by Nobel winning author Halldór K. Laxness. I haven’t read quite as many of his novels as I should but this one I did read a few summers ago. Well… I almost read it all… it took a long time and I returned it to the library before I could finish but there wasn’t much left.

The story is set in the 18 century and is about the fairest Icelandic maiden and her love for a man who loves her back but they cannot be together because of the other love, or passion, in his life. He is obsessed with collecting every single old book or manuscript in Icelandic and travels around the country and the world to find them. The maiden marries a drunk and then a priest and the man marries a rich woman who can support him financially. The story of their lives weaves around an odd person, a poor farmer and a thief who these people never would have met under normal circumstances but never fails to serve as a comic relief.

Now, on to the play! It was AMAZING!!! The music was live and complemented the setting of the play perfectly. The use of the stage and props was well executed. The dialogue was relatively easy to follow but as I was sitting rather far from the stage I had to listen carefully to hear some of the actors. That was my only real criticism and I will try not to buy those seats again. Another thing though was that it was a bit long – but i’m not sure where they could have shortened it. The costumes – which are something i rarely notice – were fitting and I fell deeply in love with the costumes of the maiden. I now want a whole wardrobe based on the Icelandic national costume.

The actors did an amazing job! They were believable and in character the whole time and every single one of them added to the experience. I especially loved the performance of Ingvar E. Sigurðsson as the old farmer who spoke with an accent the entire play.

The book collector is based on a real Icelandic legend who saved many of our greatest manuscript. Some of them were lost in a fire in Copenhagen and this fire was of course also in the play. I literally had tears in my eyes in that scene thinking about what was lost in the real fire.

I was very satisfied and almost want to go see the play again! 5 stars without a doubt!

Happy New Year!

Tonight was theater night! Again:)
I had almost given up on reading the award winning novel(ette) The people in the basement by the Icelandic author Auður Jónsdóttir. At least i was making no progress and had lost interest in the book. Now on the other hand I will try once more after I’ve seen the play that’s based on the book. And if and when I finish it I’ll update this post so stay tuned…

But right now I want to quickly review the play. There are two stories going on at the same time. One that is happening now and one is Klara’s, the main-characters, memories of her childhood. Her parents were of the ’68 people, drank, smoked and fought a lot. Klara has to make peace with her own world but to do that she has to make peace with her parents world.

The setting of the play was practical, there were seats on both sides of the stage. I specially noticed the lighting, which added a lot to the scene. The music was also very well handled. Ilmur, who played Klara, did an amazing job with interpreting the character. She sold her, made her believable and made me laugh and have tears in my eyes. Other characters, such as the man in the basement and Klara’s husband also did a great job.

I love that you can buy really cheap theater tickets in Iceland now. It’s almost the same price as going to the movies but the plays stick with you for so much longer and you always enjoy yourself!

I recommend this play for people 18 years and up. I can’t see teenagers or children liking it and also there is cursing, drinking, partying and such in it. I want to give the play 4.5 stars.

That’s it for now!