Hooray for All Kinds of Things

Sandy Nelson's comic play examines the intriguing events of the 2010 Reykjavik Municipal elections, in which comedian and actor, Jon Gnarr, became the Mayor of Iceland's capital, despite his candidacy and formation of the "Best Party" originally being designed as a satirical joke. Nelson's play takes us through the key moments that affected Gnarr during this time - particularly the things that led to the Best Party taking the election a little more seriously.

There's a hollowness to the character - or a hollowness to the play.

Nelson is entertaining as the affable Gnarr, telling easy jokes and holding our attention well. Through him, Gnarr is successfully drawn as the laid-back and likable character that he clearly was, while frequent appeals and small exchanges with the audience lend the production an air of collusion, joining Gnarr on his mission. In more dramatic, less comedic scenes, Nelson still holds up reasonably well, though he passes up opportunities for emotional depth in favour of exposition.

The other performers, Rebecca Elise and Jamie Scott Gordon, are both solid but limited in what the script allows them to do. Their primary characters, Gnarr's co-conspirators Kristin Helgadottir and Ottarr Proppe respectively, are effectively foils through which we learn more about Gnarr, and are sadly therefore not particularly interesting - Elise's excellent monologue about the relationship between art and politics aside. The two are better utilized in playing other supporting characters with great humour, from classic politician stereotypes to other eccentric members of Gnarr's party.

That's the negative that keeps creeping into the show though: too much is explained, not enough is shown. Nelson has great opportunities to show some more sides of Gnarr; his clear irritation with the political system that must have led him to start his joke party in the first place, or the serious side of Gnarr that knows life isn't a joke, to name some examples. We don't really see these, we get told that they're there. There's a hollowness to the character - or a hollowness to the play. The lovely monologue mentioned earlier is the closest the play ever comes to justifying why the events it depicts should appear onstage, aside from as a jolly diversion. 

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The Blurb

Hooray for All Kinds of Things, by Sandy Nelson. 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 Reykjavik! 'Funny, thoughtful and sometimes strangely moving.’ **** (Scotsman)