JOYCE MCMILLAN on HOORAY FOR ALL KINDS OF THINGS at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 7.2.15. ___________________________________________________
4 stars ****
WITH A SMALLER POPULATION than Edinburgh, and a position on the chilly edge of the Arctic circle, Iceland was, until recently, a small and fairly peaceful country of which not much was heard. Since the great financial meltdown of 2008, though, which destroyed most of the nation’s banks, Iceland has become a kind of crucible for post-crash economics and politics; and this latest Play, Pie And Pint show by comedian, actor, musician and writer Sandy Nelson explores the story of Jon Gnarr, the comedian and performer who in 2010 was ejected Mayor of Rejkjavik, on a platform that promised to send up politics rotten, tell a few good jokes, and brighten up people’s lives.
The play uses a simple storytelling-and-flashback formula, with Nelson himself playing Gnarr as character and narrator, Rebecca Elise in inspired form as his spin-doctor and publicist Heida Helgadottir, and Jamie Scott Gordon as his ex-punk-rapper deputy, Ottarr. And in the course of a funny, thoughtful and sometimes strangely moving 55 minutes, this light-touch piece of theatrical storytelling succeeds in exploring many of the key issues raised by Jon Gnarr’s brief political career; from the sheer technocratic boredom of much modern political discourse, to the inevitable failure of any system that disrespects artists, and ultimately values money more than creativity and fun. As Gnarr says, at the play’s end, his story is about what happens when artists stop trying to put politics into their art, and start putting their art into politics – to brilliant and life-enhancing effect, it seems, not only in Iceland, but here in Scotland too.