Hooray for All Kinds of Things

Hooray for all Kind of Things tells the true story of Icelandic stand-up comedian Jòn Gnarr’s decision to run for office in the Reykjavík mayoral elections of 2010. Gnarr, along with a group of fellow artists, decides that - as a response to the financial crisis and the resulting political apathy - he will form the Best Party, with the stated aim of making life more fun for Icelandic people. It's an exciting tale in itself, and this is lucky because the play brings very little new to the table.

We are given a good sense of the outward man from the way he talks to his colleagues, and to the public via chat shows, but a deeper sense of Gnarr as a person is lacking.

Sandy Nelson’s script only really provides characterisation for Gnarr himself. We follow his motivation as he decides to form the party, his pleasure at his initial success, and his trials and tribulations along the way. However, even this feels rather superficial. We are given a good sense of the outward man from the way he talks to his colleagues, and to the public via chat shows, but a deeper sense of Gnarr as a person is lacking. This is not a play that is interested in the nuances of what makes such a fascinating character tick.

The supporting characters fare even worse. Heida Helgadottir, the campaign manager, is a single mother who, as the play points out, is choosing to spend her limited resources on pushing this joke campaign; Óttarr Proppe, Gnarr’s sidekick, is an ex-punk rockstar. These are exciting people, but you wouldn’t know it, as the play reduces them almost entirely to providing moral support to Gnarr.

The actors work wonders with the material they have been given. Rebecca Elise gives a very amusing performance as “Kirsty” when she interviews Gnarr, and brings warmth to her main role as Helgadottir. Her monologue on art and politics is beautifully delivered. Jamie Scott Gordon is clearly enjoying his role as the eccentric punk rocker, and it's infectious. Sandy Nelson (who both wrote and stars in the play) gives an engaging performance, and demonstrates a pleasingly easy way with his audience, particularly in the scenes in which he addresses them directly.

Ultimately, this is a rather thin dramatisation of an exciting event and an interesting man. It never quite manages to achieve the status of working as a drama in its own right, and it’s difficult to see what is to be gained by watching the play that wouldn’t be gained from reading Gnarr's book on the subject.

Reviews by Grace Knight

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The Blurb

By early 2008 Iceland had grown so rich its assets were nine times greater than its entire economic output. But by October of that same year no Western country had crashed in peacetime as quickly and as badly. The people of Iceland were afraid. They needed guidance. They needed hope. One man stood up! Well, he was a stand up comedian. This is the story of Jón Gnarr and The Best Party of Rejkyavik!

Sandy Nelson is a writer, actor, musician and father from Glasgow now resident in Argyll. For Oran Mor he has written 4 plays (Metrosexual; The Glimmering Nymph ; Baltamire; Bite The Bullet with Keith Warwick), two adaptations (Pygmalion; The Taming Of The Shrew) and has appeared in 4 plays by others (Lie Down Comic; Sleeping Beauty; The Defecit Show; Between The Thinks Bubble & the Speech Balloon.) You will know his face as Chris The Postie in BBC Scotlands Still Game and will know is voice from many appearances on Radio Scotlands McAuley & Co and Call Kaye.