Previewed 6 July 2007, Opened 10 July 2007, Closed 6 October 2007 at the Trafalgar Studios 1 in London
Mummy's boy Elling and his roommate, the uncouth reluctant virgin Kjell Bjarne are the Odd Couple of Oslo: a pair of confused souls taking their first steps in the outside world after years of an isolated and institutional life. Now given a flat in the city by social services, their mission is to re-assimilate themselves into society - it's either that or a return to the asylum. All they have to do is convince their social worker that they really are 'normal', even if it does feel safer sleeping in a wardrobe...
Elling is based on the novel by Ingvar Ambjørnsen and the original stage adaptation by Axel Hellstenius in collaboration with Petter Næss. Elling is presented in London in a new version by Simon Bent. This production comes into London's West End following an extended run at West London's Bush Theatre (25 April to 2 June 2007).
The cast features John Simm as 'Elling' and Adrian Bower as 'Kjell Bjarne' with Jonathan Cecil as 'Alfrons', Keir Charles as 'Frank Asli / Poet / Waiter' and Ingrid Lacey as 'Reidun / Gunn / Johanne / Poet' who all reprise their roles from the original critically acclaimed Bush Theatre production. Directed by Paul Miller with designs by Simon Daw, lighting by Mark Doubleday, and music and sound by Jack C Arnold.
John Simm is best known for his starring role in the acclaimed television series Life on Mars. Adrian Bower is probably best know for playing 'Brian Steadman' in three series of the television show Teachers.
"It's the story of two psychiatric patients released from hospital who are trying to make their way in the big, bad world. The set, which doubles as their institutional room and their new home in Oslo, consists of two metal beds - the only hint that proceedings might be slightly upbeat being the walls, painted in bold, paediatric shades of blue and yellow... Elling's problem is his mother, who never let him grow up; Bjane's is his unfulfilled, fly-popping sexuality - 40 years old, still a virgin and priapic at the mere mention of Thailand. At times the evening drags, but under Paul Miller's direction, John Simm and Adrian Bower bring a touching believability to their oddball pairing, and Simm, on whom the proceedings depend, charts his character's journey from crippled agrophobe to playful self-ironist with winning intelligence. The play's take on mental illness is ultimately rather rosy - the structural need for a good conclusion ties too many loose ends in unsatisfactory knots - but the script has some great one-liners, the actors' timing is spot on, and you'd need to hate life not to give the characters a chance." The Sunday Telegraph
"Elling is a mental hospital inmate, cool and precise, nattily dressed when not in his pyjamas. He shares a room with Bjarne, who discloses that he's nearly 40 and has "never f***ed". Ah, well, you think, something to look forward to there. They're moved to a flat; Elling is befriended by an eccentric poet; and Bjarne's dreams come true, thanks to a woman in the flat above. Simon Bent's play, based on a Norwegian work, itself an adaptation of a novel, is pottering whimsically about the question: are mad people really mad? Alas, it never rises to its subject." The Sunday Times
Elling in London at the Trafalgar Studios 1 previewed from 6 July 2007, opened on 10 July 2007 and closed on 6 October 2007