Monday, October 14, 2013

The Norwegians


The Norwegians

By C. Denby Swenson

Produced by The Drilling Company Theatre for New Plays, OOB

Directed by Elowyn Castle

With:Dan Teachout

Karla Hendrick

Veronica Cruz

Hamilton Clancy
The Drilling Company recently produced a new play by C. Denby Swenson called The Norwegians. It concerns two women who find themselves in Minnesota hiring thugs to knock off their ex-boyfriends. It purports to be a comedy.
In Minnesota people are Norwegian, and they’re so nice that even the hit men are nice. This is the basis of the play, and we’re subjected from beginning to end with a stream of unfunny lines about Norwegians niceness, with an occasional excursion into their insularity. “In the past hundred years, nearly no Norwegians have become Mormons.” That’s one of the funnier lines, believe it or not.
The monotony of the bad Norwegian jokes is sometimes broken by the bad Minnesota jokes: in Minnesota people learn to drive on frozen rivers.
What’s more, there are also a more-than-ample number of very stale astrology jokes.
The playwright is innocent of any understanding of dramatic action. The situation at the end of Act One is precisely the same as it was in the beginning. We’ve made no progress.
Director Elowyn Castle does the best she can with this material, but the stage remains lifeless. The two settings that share the small stage are the henchmen’s room, indicated by a table and chairs, and a bar, indicated by a bar table. Wait – in the second act there’s an outdoor scene, indicated by nothing.
The actors talk to us a bit, and the fellows in the cast have an interesting deadpan. These techniques could have been effective if they had been given anything amusing to say.
I found the second act more palatable than the first. The people sitting in front of me and next to me had left during the intermission, so I got a better site line and a bit of room to spread out.
The Drilling Company nobly produces Shakespeare in the Parking Lot – literally Shakespeare in a parking lot – each summer. This year they gave us a very nice production of Richard III. It’s a mystery how they can produce something this awful as well.