The play Glanni glæpur í Latabæ, which is shown at the National Theater, has enjoyed great popularity among children of all ages this winter. It has now come to the point that this play, and recently Áfram Latibær, became the most popular Icelandic children's play shown in Iceland. All shows have been played to packed houses. On Sunday 29 October, the 25th guest visited the Sports elf and ...
I admit that I have little knowledge of Latibær, apart from the fact that I know Magnús Scheving’s first book, about the place that was read, which was children’s morning story on channel 1 this summer. A play based on this book in Loftkastalinn, which I did not see as very popular. But it’s quite clear that fitness star Magnús Scheving has hit the mark with his refreshing propaganda for healthy exercise and healthy lifestyles. Latibær has become well known among the children and it is only natural to still row in the same direction as the National Theater (Þjóðleikhúsið) does now, with the collaboration of Magnús and Sigurður Sigurjónsson.
The people in Latibær are indeed the best people in general, but they are very cheeky and with an unbelievable way of life. The sports elves had managed to cheer up the well-being of the townspeople, especially by urging them to grow and consume their own vegetables, but not unhealthy canned ones.
Now everyone is happy and living a healthy life. But then the serpent creeps into this Garden of Eden in the body of a man who calls himself Rikki ríki but is in fact none other than Glanni glæpur. He miraculously manages to wrap the townspeople around his fingers. He gets the stupid cops to serve him, has a lot of money from people for malnourished canned food, even poisons for it, and steals from it. Eventually, he ousts the beloved but wise mayor from office and takes over the throne himself.
What can you do then? Yes, all you have to do is call on the Sports elf who descends to Latibær, literally speaking like “god from the machine” and pulls everything together.
Sigurður Sigurjónsson undoubtedly plays a major role in this work. He has chosen a familiar children’s show in the staging of this play. The scene is actually based on Disney cartoons. The costumes are in bright colors, there are a lot of fun sonic tricks and the actors’ movements are great, the playing style is exaggerated as in jokes. All of this works well in the show and makes it colorful, lively, and reliably suitable for children. The work is admittedly very simple in format, and the conversations are not overly funny or clicky in themselves. But there is a warm charm about the show that hardly leaves anyone intact, even though the viewer is well past the age of the show’s target audience and the interest in fitness is diminishing, as with the person who writes this.
The main character in the play is not really the Sports elf, it’s not really about him much, except when it comes to physical fitness. Magnús Scheving plays the role himself and he is probably better in something else than playing, although he presents great on stage. However, it is Rikki rfki, also known as Glanni glæpur or Dói Dós (Dan Can), the villain himself, who is the star of the show. Stefán Karl Stefánsson plays this handsome boy with a lot of fun, security and power, so it’s really fun to watch him.
Admittedly, the play is uneven because the people it deals with are the innocence itself, as I said before. It’s not enough that Lolli lögga the cop (Örn Arnason) is as simple as the cops usually are in plays and movies, but there are the ones who are even more simple, including the mayor (Magnús Ólafsson) who is, as mentioned before, a good guy but offers little resistance against the offensive of Rikka ríka.
Siggi sæti (Steinn Armann Magnússon) is also an easy prey for Rikka, as the variety of food is sold as candy. There are also Maggi mjói (Baldur Trausti Hreinsson), Goggi mega computer plug (Rúnar Freyr Gíslason) and Nenni níski (Kjartan Guðjónsson). A special mention deserves Solla Stirða (Linda Ásgeirsdóttir) and Halla hrekkjusvín (Vigdís Gunnarsdóttir). They are both fun types. Stína símalína (Lilja Guðrún Þorvaldsdóttir), the mayor’s friend, turns out to be quite opportunistic, but perhaps more humane as a result. Not to mention Ólafur Darri Olafsson who takes on several roles. And the rooster in the town also has his role in the play with whoever lends his voice to him, probably the puppet maker, Guðmundur Þór. Everyone plays it well and obviously enjoys it.
Songs and lyrics sounded pretty good, but they didn’t catch.
It is therefore not possible to say that this is an original or innovative way of staging children’s shows. The colorful adventure world of cartoons reigns on stage with all its tricks and it reaches the children – and the child in the rest of us.
The National Theater
Glanni glæpur in Latabae by Magnús Scheving and Sigurður Sigurjónsson.
Director: Sigurður Sigurjónsson.
Cast: Snorri Freyr Hilmarsson.
Lighting design: Guðbrandur Ægir Asbjörnsson.
Choreographer: Astrós Gunnarsdóttir.
Lyricist: Karl Ágúst Úlfsson.
Author and performer of music: Máni Svavarsson.
Puppetry and puppetry: Guðmundur Þór Kárason.
Premiered at the Grand Stage of the National Theater on 30 September.