From Iceland — Candy from Trolls

Candy from Trolls

Published December 4, 2008

Grapevine visits the play "Let's talk Christmas"

Candy from Trolls
Photo by
Jói Kjartans

Grapevine visits the play "Let's talk Christmas"

The basement of the restaurant Tabasco’s has been transformed into a small theatre, where these days the man-eating Christmas troll Grýla, lures in her victims with the irresistible smell of cookies and smoked meat. Suddenly she appears from the twilight, but really, not as ugly and old as I imagined; and in contrast to her misanthropic reputation, she opens quite friendly: “Hello, I am glad that you all could come. Take a seat and help yourself to some cookies.” This is a friendly invitation to the play “Let’s talk Christmas,” a theatrical introduction to the Icelandic Christmas customs and fairytales.

For the next hour Grýla told her visitors about Icelandic cuisine first and foremost, as ‘Jól’ – like Christmas in most countries – is definitely a food-centred holiday. Grýla even serves a piece of most of the meals she introduces during her play, so that all of her guests can try the treats. Grýla also told her own story and how her cunning offspring, The Yule-lads, sallied out to become serious competitors to Santa Claus. Every night for thirteen days leading up to Christmas, children put a shoe in the windowsill and the Yule-lads come down from the mountains one by one, bringing treats each night. Except for the naughty children. They receive a potato.

With the show was, Grýla took of the headscarf and took a deep breath after her non-stop talk. The young woman’s who emerged from underneath the disguise is called Ólöf Hugrún Valdimarsdóttir and has just graduated as an actor in England: “This play is my first engagement as an actor in Iceland. I thought it would be a good start.”

A friend of the actress wrote the play: “It has been penned by Snæbjörn Ragnarsson. He has already done much writing for stage and TV, although ‘Let’s talk Christmas’ is his first play in English.” The original idea of staging an entertaining crash-course in Icelandic Jól-customs for foreigners, however, came from a friend of Ólöf’s, Anna Bergljót Thorarensen, who also acts as a producer for the play with her theatre company Kraðak. “Anna is a real Christmas fan,” Ólöf explains. “That is why ‘Let’s talk Christmas’ is even the second play with a Christmas background in Kraðak’s program this winter.”

  • Where: Tabasco’s Hafnarstraeti 1-3, 101 Reykjavík
  • When: Every day until Dec. 31 at 14:00
Support The Reykjavík Grapevine!
Buy subscriptions, t-shirts and more from our shop right here!


Show Me More!