Photo by Don Kellogg

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Something told me as soon as the curtain went up - this is not an American play.  (Maybe if i noticed the date and place atop the huge diary entry scrawled on the curtain I'd have realized this too).   Instead, a sparse stage with Ikea-looking furniture clued me in.  Indeed, the play was written by someone from and takes place in Norway .  The subject matter is a bit odd, but enjoyable nonetheless - Two men get released from a mental hospital into what we Americans might call a half-way house.  They are not dangerous people and the show is a comedic, mis-hap laden, and touching chronicle of their rehabilitation and re-introduction into society.

Dennis O'Hare (Elling) and Brendan Frasier (Kjell Bjarne) certainly have chemistry and it instantly permeates the air as the two odd-ball men engage in their banter.  If an American TV series were to be spawned from this play, it might be aptly titled The Odd Odd-Couple.  Richard Easton (Alfonz Jorgensen) and Jeremy Shamos (Frank Alsi) also rounded out the cast but frankly didn't provide much to the overall hilarity of the story itself.  The magic formula for this show lies squarely on the shoulders of O'Hare and Frasier.  I'm not convinced, however, that Jennifer Coolidge (Reidun Nordsletten) is even certified to be up on stage, nonetheless with these two stage pros.  Her performance was often stilted (Gunn) and even confusing at times (Reidun).

There were quite a few laughs and after I warmed up to the idea of the show, I must say I enjoyed it thoroughly.  A few surprises break up the action including the poetry-slam scene in which Shamos had a show stealing moment and the restaurant bathroom scene where Elling meets Alfonz - let's just say the sound effects stole that one.  Note to readers: the next time you buy sauerkraut, look inside the package.  Like Elling, you might just find a pleasant surprise inside.