Monday, February 10, 2020

UFTA Here Comes the Norwegians

UFTA—Here comes the Norwegians!

Having spent parts of several years in Minneapolis working on a degree at the University of Minnesota, I have heard most of the jokes tossed around in the wild and wacky production of The Norwegians at the tiny Live Theatre Workshop in Tucson.  C. Denly-Swansen’s ninety minute intermissionless work moves rapidly, but ultimately succumbs to its origination as a ten minute play that has been extended beyond the capacity of its core idea.

The fun of the setup is all in the first forty minutes or so.  A woman from Texas (with none of the popular Texas attributes of old cowgirl, ranch life, hosses, six guns, blond tresses, etc.) travels all the way up I35 to hire two Minnie-Sotan Norweigian hit men to dispense with her ex-boyfriend.   While the dour northerners interview her before accepting the contract, the woman (Avis Judd as Olive) meets a sleek blond with a fowl mouth and a vicious twisted sneer in a bar.  It turns out that she also has put out a contract on her ex and as she is from Kentucky and has had a horse, she is ready and waiting to round off on the Norwegian punch lines. Her name is Betty; she is played with monstrous gusto by Samantha Courmier and she has a couple of roof raising monologues that skewer Minnee-soda winters, Norwegian foods, sex practices, and philosophy.  She is just plain delightfully over the top and scary at the same time. 

The two hit men make a kind of Martin and Lewis pair.  Steven Frankenfield’s Gus is the unsteady action guy who apparently wields the Twins baseball bat that has lines on it for the kills. He has had a previous unfaithful wife and now wants some real action, but doesn’t have much to offer personality wise (but then what Norwegian does?}  His partner is the philosopher king and manager.  His tag as he claims Norwegian invention of all philosophies and even baseball is “We’re Norwegians.”  They stand alone and imperious master of all things.  Keith Wick as Tor (named for the Norse God of Thunder)  has mastered the dialect with that first phrase or syllable emphasis and is pretty much hilarious every time he opens his mouth. 

As director Roberto Guajardo says in his brief playbill notes “You probably won’t come away from this production with any new insights,” but it should put a smile on your face. I agree there were smiles aplenty, yet there just didn’t seem to be an end.  The show just stopped as if the author had finally run out of ammunition.   In the final minutes there are a number of suspenseful blackouts and on about the third of them the lights came up and the actors started taking their bows. The guy sitting next to me said out loud “Is that it?”  I was as surprised as he was. 


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