This holiday season Broadway is serving up two Norwegian fruitcakes in Elling, a nutty confection sure to give you a sugar rush.
The titular character Elling, played with manic verve by Denis O'Hare, is released from a mental institution to live in a small Oslo apartment with 40-year-old virgin Kjell Bjarne, played by Brendan Fraser in his Broadway debut, who gives a somewhat heavy-handed but ultimately winning performance. The agoraphobic Elling becomes strangely attached to his oafish and sex-crazed roommate as he dabbles in writing and finds a mentor in a noted Norwegian poet (Richard Easton), who may or may not be trying to to steal his work. All the while, Kjell Bjarne pursues his pregnant neighbor (Best in Show's quirky cool Jennifer Coolidge) with a feverish abandon. Events, somewhat predictably, get out of control as the loons learn that life outside the nuthouse can be as strange as it is inside.
Elling, originally a novel by Ingvar Ambjornsen, was adapted by the British playwright Simon Bent. Though the audience can't help but feel that some of the humor has been lost in translation, Elling powers through on the strength of its pitch-perfect performances.
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