REVIEW: The Norwegians

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During Act Two of THE NORWEGIANS, I sipped on a Coke I bought from the concession area at the Clifton Performance Theatre and something didn’t taste quite right.  It wasn’t bad – not flat like the Coke at Kings Island’s Chik-Fil-A (which they were “too busy to change”) – but just a little off.

I finally looked at the can it was a Vanilla Coke.  Aha!  That explains it.

I feel the same way about the play but without the Aha! moment.  Something is just a little off but I can’t put my finger on it.

It’s not a bad play, per se, though I do think the playwright tries too hard for laughs more than once.  Miranda McGee stars as “Olive,” a woman wishing to place a hit on her ex-boyfriend.  “Betty,” played by Carol Brammer, knows a guy.  Two, actually.  “Gus” (Michael Bath) and “Tor” (Sean Dillon) are known as “The Norwegians.”  They take pride in being “nice” hitmen. The action slowly takes an interesting turn and flashbacks are used to advance the plot.

I’ve struggled with writing this review for a couple of days.  I love this space and I love the folks who play there.  This is a transition year for them, I think, as they have just now announced their full season.  So I’m not sure if they rushed this production to the stage but it felt under-rehearsed the night I saw it.  The story has some creative ideas but overall feels like a flat version of the film “Fargo”.  And it plays like a Fringe piece instead of the fully staged, magnificent plays I’ve seen here before.  AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY, A BRIGHT NEW BOISE, RED LIGHT WINTER,  THE WHALE, and others have set the bar extremely high.  I know what these folks are capable of and we all know how fantastic McGee, Bath, and Brammer can be with the right script in their hands.  Dillon, who is back to Cincinnati after a successful writing career in LA, has tons of potential, too, as evidenced by his work at SERIALS at Know Theatre and his improv work with OTRimprov.  Director Cathy Springfield’s THE IRISH CURSE was so good they had to bring it back for a revival.  These are talented professionals.

I just didn’t care for this one.

That said, others in the audience seemed to be having a blast.  It’s always a unique experience to see a show in this basement store-front theatre and I recommend you go check it out to form your own opinion.  You might love it!  And ain’t that the beauty of art?

THE NORWEGIANS runs through November 1st at the Clifton Performance Theatre on Ludlow Avenue.  Click here for tickets.

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