‘Elling’ limps from Norway to Broadway / News / The Foreigner

The Foreigner ‘Elling’ limps from Norway to Broadway. “There’s no business like show business”, according to the song, but the curtain and axes fell last night on Broadway. The Norwegians are few and generally popular in some parts of the world. However, this did not extend to New York’s Ethel Barrymore Theater. Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times slaughtered last night’s premiere of Norwegian author Ingvar Ambjørnsen’s “Elling”. “I may well be underestimating the potency of Norwegian humor, for which I humbly apologize in advance. That said, the premise of "Elling," in which the title character...and his roommate Kjell Bjarne...are transferred from an insane asylum to a halfway house in order to adjust to life in the outside world, strikes me as…well, not very funny,” writes Wall Street Journal reviewer Terry Teachout.

elling, broadway, new, york, ny, ethel, barrymore, theater, ingvar, ambjoernsen, simon, bent, petter, naess, eva, isaksen, terry, teachout, charles, isherwood, critics, reviews



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‘Elling’ limps from Norway to Broadway

Published on Monday, 22nd November, 2010 at 21:44 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last Updated on 22nd November 2010 at 22:05.

“There’s no business like show business”, according to the song, but the curtain and axes fell last night on Broadway.



The Norwegians are few and generally popular in some parts of the world. However, this did not extend to New York’s Ethel Barrymore Theater. Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times slaughtered last night’s premiere of Norwegian author Ingvar Ambjørnsen’s “Elling”.

“I may well be underestimating the potency of Norwegian humor, for which I humbly apologize in advance. That said, the premise of "Elling," in which the title character...and his roommate Kjell Bjarne...are transferred from an insane asylum to a halfway house in order to adjust to life in the outside world, strikes me as…well, not very funny,” writes Wall Street Journal reviewer Terry Teachout.

The New York Times’ Charles Isherwood, whilst enthusiastic at the beginning of his review, came to the conclusion that “the cross-cultural trek from the Norwegian page to the Broadway stage appears to have offered ample opportunity for delicacies of style to get lost in translation. What is crucially missing from Mr. [Simon] Bent’s [new English] adaptation are the gentle humanity and sly, understated humor of the movie version, an Oscan nominee for best foreign film in 2002. In their place are the broad, creaking mechanics of the stage sitcom, professionally if unsubtly delivered by a talented but ill-served cast under the workmanlike direction.”

Simon Bent’s new production of “Elling” is set in the current day, and is a comedy about two wildly mismatched roommates, obsessive/compulsive Elling, and Kjell Bjarne, the wildly enthusiastic gentle giant.

The lovably odd pair attempt to embrace life, friendship, love, women, poetry and pizza. The only thing stopping them experiencing the world and having the time of their lives is they cannot get out of their apartment.

They discover a little about life and a lot about each other through a chain of riotous mishaps, featuring a very pregnant neighbour, inquisitive social worker, and an eccentric artist.

Author Ingvar Ambjørnsen was born in 1956 in Larvik, now living in Hamburg. He wrote the “Elling” series between 1993 and 1999, and his prose is characterised by black humour, as well as compelling descriptions of people and the surroundings.

Two films have been made based on the series, “Elling” in 2001 directed by Petter Næss, and “Elling’s Mother” in 2003, directed by Eva Isaksen.

Terry Teachout remained unimpressed about last night's first night, however.

“I regret to say: "Elling" is relentlessly sentimental and comprehensively unfunny, so much so that I had to struggle to stay awake all the way to the bitter end.”

The production runs until 21 March 2011.



Published on Monday, 22nd November, 2010 at 21:44 under the news category, by Michael Sandelson   .
Last updated on 22nd November 2010 at 22:05.

This post has the following tags: elling, broadway, new, york, ny, ethel, barrymore, theater, ingvar, ambjoernsen, simon, bent, petter, naess, eva, isaksen, terry, teachout, charles, isherwood, critics, reviews.





  
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