It has been forever since I watched a play, and I can’t remember if I ever reviewed one (other than for professional reasons).
And Elling is a good way to start.
Based on a Norwegian story, it is about two mental asylum patients – Elling and Kjell, who are ‘released’ into the society in the hope that they can almost function normally in the society. I believe there is a movie based on the story as well. Though I haven’t watched (and not sure if I want to either), the theatre version managed to bring in a level of spontaneity and humor into the play without removing the poignancy of the story.
Yeah there were moments when it felt a little too long and there were moments when the more serious aspects should have been given a little more space and time, but even as you laugh at the jokes, the absurdity of the two mad men, you are rooting for them.
They move into a little apartment – Elling – with his intense suspicion of everything around him, borne perhaps of living in too close quarters with his mother, the habit of talking to his other selves and yet, the wit and the stubborn bravado that shines through it; and Kjell whose mind pretty much rests on food and sex.
The chemistry between the both of them – played by members of Dramanon theatre group – is quite fun to watch. They might be absolutely bizzare but they got each other’s back – always. Even when you think they are drifting apart. In a world of chaos and much worse, they are each other’s anchor.
It has been a while since a play made me laugh my guts out and yet think. Think about how frail human relationships are and that all we really need to be together is to want. That little bond that surpasses women, men, other people and whatever else that comes because you perhaps came from the same place. Or that you have made your choice and you intend to stick by it, even if you find out that the stories your roommate has been telling you are made up and he made them up because you loved listening to them. And then you say “well I don’t care, as long as you tell them all again.”
Or a friend who doesn’t judge another’s sex mania… instead finds him the hotline number to dial and laughs when he goes “i’m hard”. Or buys you a lighter with a naked woman on it, who takes off all her clothes when lit. Or build a house of matches.
Was Elling about friends? About how people – as crazy as they might be – end up being normal and puking on their doorstep, celebrating the birth of a child? That there is something normal in everything crazy or everything is crazy even when it appears normal?
Yeah, i’m sure if this were a book in school, we would be made to analyze the several themes and ideas behind the story. And I perhaps will, one day. But before that if you get a chance to see the play, I’d say grab it. It is worth a watch, if only for the laughs and the ‘we are winners’ feeling.