Published July 1, 2018
There’s something strange going on outside Iðnó. A cluster of tall, black, bipedal reptiles stand with their backs to the wall, looking out over Tjörnin. They peer down over the heads of the crowd that has gathered for the spectacle. Their jaws gnash, their tails lash, and their blue-green eyes glitter until a gothic ringmaster yells out an indecipherable series of commands—then they’re off, striding through the streets of Reykjavík, emitting weird howling sounds, pulling at the trees around them, bickering with each other, and snapping at the heads of passers by. Children howl in terror and delight.
The Close-Act Theatre’s performance, ‘Saurus,’ is an attention-grabbing start to the 2018 Reykjavík Arts Festival. This sprawling multi-disciplinary event—usually held over several weeks in May or June—has often announced its arrival with similar show-stopping street performances. While it was once an annual fixture in Reykjavík’s cultural calendar, the festival became biannual after the 2016 edition. Its absence left a hole in the summer of 2017, so it’s with no small sense of anticipation that we dive into the packed itinerary of the festival’s opening day. Here’s what went down.