By C. Denby Swanson
The Twin Cities Premiere
Directed by Joel Sass+
Featuring: Jane Froiland* (Olive), Luverne Seifert* (Tor), James Rodríguez (Gus), and Sara Marsh* (Betty)
Presented in production with The Mount Curve Company, with North Star Theatricals and with Triumph Productions, in partnership with The Playwrights’ Center, at Artspace’s Grain Belt Warehouse (2016)
Photos: Melissa Hesse
"The acting company has a rollicking time with this one-act, channeling over-sized characters. Seifert's Tor swings between the serious and the silly. His deadpan delivery is often at odds with his menace, a disjuncture lined with comic gold. Rodríguez's Gus is the funny hit man and his actions humorously compromise him. Froiland gives Olive a charming loopiness. And Sara Marsh, who plays Olive's friend and drinking buddy, Betty, commands the stage with gusto. […] This preposterous, dark comedy is not just a send up. It's a paean to the hardy, aspirational people who settled Minnesota."
— Rohan Preston, Star Tribune
"If you're thinking Coen Brothers, you're not far off in terms of dark, screwball humor...The cast is game and gifted. Seifert, bug-eyed and vaguely threatening...Rodríguez's character is only part Norwegian, and so is allowed to — you know — express emotion. Jane Froiland is appropriately weepy and scheme-y, perpetually perplexed at the goings-on around her. And Marsh trods the line between grim groundedness and insanity, proffering a darker take on living and loving in the north."
— Dominic Papatola, Pioneer Press
"Swanson's script is full of twisty, noir-ish manipulation. It's laugh-out-loud stuff that luxuriates in its Minnesotan-ness...a treatment that could easily go over-the-top in the hands of less capable performers, but Dark & Stormy Productions has assembled an unimpeachable cast...every character here has multiple moments that require going big while delivering sharp, stylized dialogue. Director and set coordinator Joel Sass is justly celebrated for his creative use of space...Most memorably, flashback sequences are signified by the actors pausing a scene, then mimicking a videotape on rewind. It's a great visual that elicits laughs from the crowd, but it's also a strangely unsettling thing to watch. That feels like a capsule of what The Norwegians strives for, and by and large accomplishes: it's a clever, verbose very funny piece of work riding on a dark undercurrent that keeps coming tantalizingly close to bubbling over." — Ira Brooker, Minnesota Playlist
"The cast is just right, something we've come to expect from D&S. Seifert is cuddly evil...Rodríguez shines as a Norwegian with 'a little bit of something else in him.' Marsh packs Betty with bitterness and colorful language...she delivers a colorful oration on the Norwegians that made one audience member laugh until he cried. It's fun to watch Froiland as Olive discover her murderous rage...Swanson's script is crisp, sharp and loaded with laughs...It's a black comedy, an entertainment, carried off with D&S's usual big imagination and small budget." — Pamela Espeland, MinnPost
"In an intimate performance arena like Dark & Stormy's space at the Grain Belt Warehouse, one weak cast member might ruin the show. 'The Norwegians' escapes that failing, getting strong performances from all four: Luverne Seifert (Tor), James Rodríguez (Gus), Sara Marsh (Betty), and Jane Froiland (Olive). Rodríguez, especially, stands out...'The Norwegians' is full of good moments in a single, 90-minute act. It manages to skewer many of Minnesota's most sacred icons...without descending to downright mockery...[And] there's just something appealing about mobsters in parkas."
— Eric Ringham, Minnesota Public Radio
"The Norwegians is a cross between A Prairie Home Companion and Fargo, with more edge than the former but without the latter's ominous cloud of despair. Director Joel Sass and his dynamic and dynamite four-person cast bring this wacky story to life in an intimate setting, providing a truly entertaining 90 minutes of theater." — Jill Schafer, Cherry and Spoon
*Member, Actors’ Equity Association
+Member, Stage Directors’ and Choreographers’ Society