When I was at uni, I had an enormous crush on an exchange student from Norway. He had brown hair, very blue eyes and had some sort of Scandinavian coolness about him. As a result, I was on time for every single class we had together, even the early morning ones, but my crush on him was so strong I was barely able to string two words together and never once did we even go out or have a coffee or anything.
So imagine my delight when I attended Brevity Theatre's production of Being Norwegian at The Old Fitzroy Theatre, Woolloomooloo, only to find that one of the main characters in the play is aslo taken aback slightly by his Norwegian date, just like I was all those years ago?
But Being Norwegian isn't a play about cultural differences. Not entirely, anyway. Directed by Alexander Butt, it's a play about two people who are trying to come together for one night, but find that their differences are slowing down this process. Sean (played by David Woodland) and Lisa (played by Katy Curtain) meet on a night out, and the play opens up in Sean's apartment after he has invited Lisa home. Sean is a little awkward around Lisa, and it doesn't help that she proudly talks about her Norwegian heritage every chance she gets. The promotional material for the play note that Being Norwegian is about "two outsiders reach out to each other across the deep fjords of the heart", and this was done with humour, charm and a touch of melancholy.
David Woodland as Sean is pretty good, but Katy Curtain as Lisa is the one to keep an eye on here. Equal parts Nordic Alpha Female and Frustrated Date, she tries her best for much of the play (which runs for less than an hour) to get Sean to connect with her, and she is delightful to watch. She jumps on the sofa in one scene, and then dreamily stares out the window in another scene, all the while telling Sean about what people do in Norway. The audience finds out so much about Lisa because she is the one who is readily giving up information, whereas Sean is a closed book, not so open to volunteering information on himself. You will recognise yourself in both Sean and Lisa, which is the beauty of a play of this length. You later find out why Sean is living his life with his guard up, and by then you're kind of glad he and Lisa have somehow found each other.
Being Norwegian is a lovely play about how coming from "somewhere else" doesn't always have to be a geographical location, but, just like anyone who is trying to make a home in a new space, it can mean that navigating through unchartered waters might just be the way to go. It's funny and engaging, and will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy when the play is over. A great play to see with a date.