17 May 2014

Exploring Nordic Noir at the Riverside

There was no way that I was going to miss this show.

I am not as steeped in Nordic Noir as some people, lacking the organisation to watch long TV series, but I have seen the Stieg Larsson trilogy a few times (I have them all on DVD) and caught the occasional episode of shows like Wallender and The Killing. Besides, I love Noir and have an affection for the Nordics arising from many visits there.

This double-bill promised an example of the genre (The Evil) and then a comedy on the subject (Killing the Danes).

The travel went well and I got there in good time to have a beer before joining the queue for Studio 3 where I was able to claim my preferred seat in the second row immediately to the right of the central aisle.

The Evil turned out to be a monologue by Danish actor Claes Bang, who has played parts in The Bridge and Borgen, based on a novel by Swedish writer Jan Guillou.

This told the story of a young boy immersed in violence, he was beaten regularly by his father and got in to fights at school. To try and control him, he was then sent to a boarding school where the violence was even worse.

This was a powerful story powerfully told by Claes and it had me gripped from beginning to end. So much so that I lost all track of time but it seemed to be the best part of an hour before we broke for the interval.

Claes told the story in the first person, he was the boy in the centre of the violence. He spoke slowly, calmly and darkly. Even when describing heated violence his voice was calm. The beatings were facts to describe not things to get emotional about. And that made it the more menacing.

It was a brutal story told wonderfully and I loved it. I was grateful for the break that followed too. A chance to catch breath and relax a little.

The second half of the show was Killing the Danes in which Vivienne McKee, an English born actress who has lived in Denmark for some years, explored the Danes' fascination with the dark side and how this contrasted with their reputation for being one of the happiest countries in the world.

This was another sole performance except for a brief reappearance by Claes as one of the Wallanders. In this brief sketch he compared his success in catching many murderers, rapists and other criminals with Sarah Lund's achievement in catching just one person a series.

Incidentally, we also had THE Sarah Lund jumper on stage. It was hidden under the white sheet on the left.

The point of the second half was to explore Danish life and for some reason I was chosen to help Vivienne in this. I had to turn own the pork an herring as I am a vegetarian, I happily accepted the Carlsberg (though I would have preferred a Tuborg), I quite liked the salted liquorish which I had not seen before an I pointed out the the bricks were Duplo not Lego but I had no idea what was being put on my head until I saw the photos!

There was much more to the show than that but I was not taking notes so I cannot recall all of the themes. I can recall laughing a lot and seeing the few Danes in the audience joining in too. It was fun.

The two shows worked well together with, rather like a Guinness, the dark and heavy The Evil, combining with the light and frothy Killing the Danes to make a very enjoyable evening.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your review. Sounds like it was really interesting. We interviewed Claes for our blog before the show in the UK but unfortunately our reviewer for the actual show performance was ill and didnt make it. I hope you dont mind me sharing your review on our blog at http://nordicnoirblog.wordpress.com/



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