NOTE: This is an expanded version of a FITK post from 2004
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 (it is closed in the summer and the plays are presented in Icelandic.) This is serious theater, 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 satirical Hallgrímur Helgason novel:
In a series of sometimes bizarre vignettes, the story of the aspirations and setbacks of an aspiring performer and her extended Icelandic family is portrayed.
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; 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 were needed.
Although Icelandic Theatre is not available here in the US, (that would be a small niche market!) there are several Icelandic movies that can be found 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.)
Production stills: Þjóðleikhúsið