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Elling: Reviews at The Bush Theatre

Cheering on the odd couple
The Telegraph
Charles Spencer
 30 April 2007

At the end of this beautiful play, just before the applause started, the audience uttered a sound I have rarely heard in a theatre. It was a collective sigh of pleasure and sympathy for characters who had finally reached their happy ending. more
A Tonic From Two Patients
London Evening Standard – theatre
Nicholas de Jongh  
30 Apr 2007

John Simm as Elling

John Simm as Elling

Elling is one of those rare, precious pieces of spoken-word drama that persuades even sour old cynics like me to go home riding high on waves of joie de vivre. There is no better theatrical tonic in town.
Elling shows how two thirty- something patients in a Norwegian mental asylum – brought to memorable comic life by John Simm and Adrian Bower – manage to survive when released. There is not a shred of sentimentality or mockery of the mentally disturbed in Paul Miller’s fluent production. more
The Times
Sam Marlowe
1 May 2007

Tickets for Elling were sold out before opening night, probably because John Simm, the star of Life on Mars, plays the title role. But terrific as Simm is, he’s only one reason to catch this quirky comedy. Originally a Norwegian novel by Ingvar Ambjørnsen, it’s now presented in Simon Bent’s English-language version, directed by Paul Miller. With riotous humour and enormous charm, it lightly addresses the relationship between life and art, suggesting that reality is what we make it.
The British Theatre Guide
Philip Fisher

Simm & Bower in Elling

Simm & Bower in Elling

If ever a play was destined for success, Elling is it. This may seem unlikely, when it is revealed that Elling is a Norwegian comedy about two men released from a mental hospital, or nuthouse as they put it, to take their chances with Care in the Community.
However, when Life on Mars star John Simm is playing the title role and his buddy is portrayed by Teachers’ Adrian Bower, it was not surprising that by press night, the whole run had sold out. more
The Guardian
Lyn Gardner
1 May 2007

Keir Charles & John Simm in Elling

Keir Charles & John Simm in Elling

The presence of Life on Mars star John Simm will pull in the crowds for Simon Bent’s adaptation of Ingvar Ambjornsen’s novel, already a successful movie. They are in for a rare treat, because this is the most blissfully funny and touching evening I’ve had in the theatre for ages. more
The Stage – Reviews
Paul Vale
1 May 2007

Two grown men, having spent the past two years sharing a room in a mental institution, are released into the outside world, in the hope they will be able to adapt and live normal lives. Kjell is an uncouth, gentle giant intent on losing his virginity and Elling is a precise mummy’s boy with a fear of the outside world. This adaptation of a cult Norwegian film works beautifully on stage and Simon Bent is to be congratulated for losing none of it’s charm or poignancy. Adrian Bower as the blustering Kjell is superb as he moves from the security of life in the asylum to his new home. more
Inside the world of an odd couple
The Independent
Paul Taylor
1 May 2007

For the first few minutes, I thought I was going to cringe through Elling, Simon Bent’s stage adaptation of the cult Norwegian movie. It looked as if we were in for a Dumb and Dumber of the dysfunctional world – one of those shows that invite you alternately to laugh at the loonies and to feel good about yourself for patronising them with sugary sympathy. Gradually, however, the uncynical, positive spirit of Paul Miller’s well-judged production and the winning depiction of the central relationship won me round. more
Tears before bedtime…
The Observer
Susannah Clapp
6 May 2007

Elling is the surprise hit of the year so far. Based on a novel by Ingvar Ambjornsen, it has, it’s true, been big in Norway, but in summary – this is a comedy about two men just out of mental hospital, adjusting to life and each other – it sounds like the soppiest kind of ‘aren’t the mad marvellous’ play. more
In London, two small shows attract full houses, for good reason
The New York Times
Matt Wolf
8 May 2007

…”Elling,” by contrast, isn’t remotely troubling, its tone blithely sentimental as we watch two men adjust to life in a world that might as well be Mars. Scarcely have they been released into the community under supervisory care before Simm’s beady-eyed, beak-nosed Elling lets slip that he has a fear of public conveniences and isn’t entirely sure how to answer a telephone. His amiable lug of a buddy, Kjell Bjarne, has his own aversion to trousers and more deep-seated problems when it comes to sex. Though nearly 40 and in no way unattractive, Kjell Bjarne – the character is only ever referred to by both names – pulls his woollen cap down around his ears as if to shut out the same world that seems newly alive with wonder, not least because it has women in it. more

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