Thursday, September 16, 2004

Þjóðleikhúsið




   The National Theatre of Iceland is located in a severe stucco-covered building on Hverfisgata in the old part of Reykjavík. It is not a big tourist destination for it is closed in the summer and the plays are presented in Icelandic. This is serious theatre, and is a challenge for even the most open-minded visitor. Last winter, I had the opportunity to attend a performance of Þetta er allt að koma ("Things Are Great"), adapted and directed by Baltasar Kormákur from the Hallgrímur Helgason novel. In a series of vignettes, the story of the aspirations and setbacks of girl and her extended Icelandic family is explored. While watching this marvelous production (with a brilliant set design) I felt as if in a waking dream; a dream where I usually couldn't follow the dialogue, where it always seemed as if I was missing a piece of the puzzle. At the end of the play, with a grand finale in a wedding reception, I was laughing and applauding the triumph of the actors' skill in portraying the human condition - no translations needed.

   Although Icelandic Theatre is not available in the US, (that would be a small niche market, indeed) there are several Icelandic movies that can be found in here if one is diligent. 101 Reykjavík, Noi the Albino, The Laughter of the Seagulls, and Cold Fever are all worthwhile (and have many of these same fine actors in them.)

By Professor Batty



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