The play, Elling, staged recently had no dull moments whatsoever
The world is a dangerous place for momma's boy Elling and wild Kjell Bjarne, they have to learn to live in it nonetheless, and the task is marked by downs, ups and lots of laughs. This is the plot of an Oscar-nominated, Norwegian film, “Elling” (2001). Theatre group Dramanon adapted the film into a play and staged it at the Alliance Francaise Bangalore, last week. Directed by Sharanya Ramprakash, Elling begins with an unkempt Kjell Bjarne waking up to find that his room mate Elling's bed empty. He hears a strange noise from the cupboard, gingerly walks towards it, and opens it to find Elling sheepishly scramble out of it. Seems crazy? You're right. Elling and Kjell Bjarne share the same room in a mental asylum. Though Elling thinks his “rare” room mate is an orang-utan, he “feels safe in a strange way having him by his side”. But destiny has other plans for them. Frank Osley, a social worker, intends to send them off to live on their own in an apartment in Oslo “from where they shall attempt to reality”.
And so begins a journey filled with both apprehension and hope. Elling's enemies aren't just dizziness and anxiety, his third and most formidable foe is Frank Osley. Osley insists that the duo get over their fear of using the phone and forces Elling to confront his worst fear — crossing the road on his own. On the other hand, Kjell Bjarne battles to satisfy his carnal desires. The audience, however, discovers that the duo isn't just two odd, confused souls, there's more to them. Elling is neurotic but there's a writer in him which he expresses through random jottings in his personal diary. It's not just Kjell Bjarne's appetite that is big, his heart as well. No one understands their predicaments, but at least they have each otherA relationship develops between the two replete with love, insecurity and jealousy.
All however ends well. After years of living a restricted, institutional life, the duo gain not just freedom, but the tag of being ‘normal' and two friends and a new born baby girl as family.
Humorous in some parts, touching in others, there is never a dull moment in the play. Sharanya Ramprakash has directed the play very well. Special mention must be made of the scene in which Elling narrates his meeting with Alphonse at a poetry reading to Kjell Bjarne. The stage, which works into an interesting arrangement, moves between past and present. Hence you see Elling who shifts between two time frames very convincingly. With a masterly performance, Elling stands to prove that acting is not just about good diction and throw of voice; it's also about the actor's use of body. Deepanjan Dey's slight angle of body, the intense yet innocent look in his eyes and his hesitant walk made him extremely convincing in the role of Elling. Anshu Bora did a magnificent job as Kjell Bjarne, he practically steals the show. The sets were minimal and worked well to keep one's attention on the powerful script. Deepanjan and Anshu were supported by a strong cast, Akhil Iyer, Nakul Bhalla, Nidhi Pant, Serena Punch, Sonali Kumar and Jerine Thomas.
Elling will be staged again on August 6 and 7 at the Ranga Shankara.