Off-Broadway Theater Review: THE NORWEGIANS (The Drilling Company)

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by Dmitry Zvonkov on October 28, 2013

in Theater-New York


The premise of C. Denby Swanson’s black comedy The Norwegians is that two Minnesotan women, Texas transplant Olive (Veronica Cruz) and Kentucky transplant Betty (Karla Hendrick) hire two very nice gangsters of Norwegian descent – Tor (Hamilton Clancy) and Gus (Dan Teachout) – to murder their ex-boyfriends. The bulk of the play is devoted to observation and commentary – both intended to be humorous – about Minnesotans, Norwegians, Texans and Kentuckians, as well as a few words about relationship-related matters.

Hamilton Clancy and Veronica Cruz.  Photo by Jonathan Slaff

Unfortunately, a lack of drama, suspense, and truthful, relatable characters make for an uncompelling show that is difficult to sit through. It does not help that most of Ms. Swanson’s observations feel all too familiar, as though they were pilfered from secondary sources, mainly popular culture such as movies and TV shows; likewise hackneyed is the pop-irony that makes its way into a number of her scenes.

Hamilton Clancy, Dan Teachout and Veronica Cruz. Photo by Jonathan Slaff.

Exacerbating matters is the fact that half the story is told in flashbacks; these quickly become tiresome; they feel like sloppy writing. Elowyn Castle’s direction does little to elevate the material, and the game actors are hamstrung and mostly ineffective. The single exception is Hendrick, whose eccentric and energized performance is the one amusing element in the show.

Hamilton Clancy, Veronica Cruz, Dan Teachout.  Photo by Lee Wexler-Images for Innovation.

A point Ms. Swanson appears to be making about the Norwegians of Minnesota is that behind their polite, friendly, helpful façades they can be cold and heartless. Regrettably she does not offer enough meaningful details or insights on the subject to make this outing worthwhile.

Veronica Cruz and Karla Hendrick.  Photo by Adele Bossard.

photos by Jonathan Slaff, Lee Wexler and Adele Bossard

The Norwegians
The Drilling Company
The Drilling Company Theatre, 236 West 78th Street
scheduled to end on November 24, 2013
EXTENDED to April 27, 2014
for tickets, call (212) 868-4444 or visit

show website:
company website:

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