This November will see the premier of two new plays aimed at the English-speaking audience: Danny and the Deep Blue Sea at Austurbær Theatre and the brand new Icelandic play Best í Heimi (Best in the World) at Iðnó. Foreign actors take on the leading roles in both pieces but direction is in the hands of young local talents.
Described as a punked love story, the play Danny and the Deep Blue Sea by New York playwright John Patrick Shanley, now being performed at Austurbær Theatre, is directed by Jón Gunnar Þórðarson. British husband and wife Matthew Hugget and Nicolette Morrison play two disturbed lower-class underachievers (Danny and Roberta) who are quite out of touch with reality. Danny is a violent deadbeat and Roberta the single mother of a screwed-up teenage son. When the two lost and lonely souls meet at a shabby bar they slowly start connecting with each other through their mutual hatred of life. The play is in all humanly emotional as well as romantic. Even though Danny and Roberta might seem rough on the outside, in the end, they just want some warmth and affection.
Performed at various theatres around the world, critics have described Danny and the Deep Blue Sea as “a wrenching love story” and “one of the most visible, concrete examples of Shanley’s dedication to exploring the infinite contrasts of human relationships.”
The impro play Best í Heimi not only differs quite a bit from the aforementioned play in its storyline, but it is in Icelandic with English subtitles. Directed by María Reyndal and collaboratively written by Reyndal and Hávar Sigurjónsson. After a year of preparations, time mostly spent in collecting material and interviewing numerous immigrants, the results are finally coming to fruition.
Being a comic satire on Icelandic society the play revolves around the relationship between Icelanders and immigrants. National pride and local chauvinism as well as the humorous and sometimes sad sides being an immigrant in Iceland can have are expressed in multiple ways. “We are making fun of all the old clichés and stereotypical ideas about Icelanders and their relationship with foreigners. We try to do so with both a funny and critical perspective,” María Reyndal tells the Grapevine.
Actors Caroline Dalton from England, Dimitra Drakopoulou from Greece, French Pierre-Alain Giraud and Tuna Meyta from Turkey all have had their fair share of the country’s residents and their own experiences with the Icelandic society reflect in performances. A curious piece for foreigners as well as for Icelanders themselves, Best í Heimi will be shown until the end of this year.
For further information on both pieces, see the Theatre Listings section in the Grapevine.