Suicide is a pretty heavy topic. Not one you expect to laugh while exploring, but with the Theatre Smash production of Norway.Today makes you do just that. This show, inspired by true events, explores two people desire to die, but not alone, but it does it with a sense of humour and humanity that make it enjoyable to watch.
My show-partner for this was Elaine, who commented that she always gets to go to shows she’d never think to go to when she goes to the theatre with me. We both agreed that it was a good show overall. I was pretty concerned that it was going to be a teen-angst oh-so-painful kind of show – hard not to be worried about that when the topic is suicide – but like I said, the show is full of irreverent moments that add to the story.
Not only is the script filled with some great dialogue, but the production itself was impressive to watch. The use of the relatively bare and deceptively simple looking set was great. Overall the design of the show really worked, and the use of the set was great to watch. And it wasn’t all just the production values, the acting is strong from both Ieva Lucs (Julie) and Steven McCarthy (August), and Sarah Baumann’s direction was tight and clean.
Although enjoyable, it wasn’t a perfect show by any means. Some of that was script, and some the production itself. Part of the play involves the recording of ‘good-bye’ videos for family. For me these really seemed to drag – so many takes of the video had me feeling ‘yeah yeah, we get it, move on now please…’ Which brings me to my second point, the show used multimedia in am interesting way, for me it got to be too much. Eventually the video screens were detracting from the show. I’d have liked to see some use of the multi-media because in parts it worked well, but you know what they say, sometimes too much of a good thing is, well, just too much.
And now to my biggest problem with the show. The running time. The show runs for an hour and 45 minutes with no intermission. Usually I like shows that don’t have an intermission, but I find if you’re going to go for that, the absolute max should be 90 minutes. For the last 20 minutes of the show all I could think about was how much I had to pee, and all Elaine could think about was how uncomfortable she was from not having been able to move for so long. So, here’s my advice to people putting on shows, if the show runs longer than 90 minutes, even if it’s 93 minutes, give your patrons an intermission!
Bottom line here is that this is a good show and I’m glad to have seen it. Of course it’s not perfect, but no show ever is, and I was certainly glad to have seen it.
– Norway. Today is playing at the Tarragon Extra Space (30 Bridgman Ave)
– The show runs until Sunday September 21, 2008, Tuesday to Saturday at 8pm, Sunday at 2:30pm
– Tickets are $20 Tuesday to Thursday, and $25 Friday and Saturday. Sundays are PWYC. Tickets are available at the Tarragon Theatre Box Office at 416-531-1827
Photo of Steven McCarthy and Ieva Lucs by Michael Walton