A play opening in Penticton on Thursday will bring a bit of Norway and a bit of Fargo to the Okanagan.
The play follows a pair of women who plot to have an ex-boyfriend killed and the Norwegian hitmen — “the very, very nice kind” — they hire to carry out the plot.
“Well, not all of us are 100 per cent Norwegian, now. Some of us have a little of something else in him, don’t we Gus?” said Eric Hanston, who plays Tor, one of the Norwegians.
Many Hats Theatre Co.’s production, The Norwegians, will be the first directed by Megan Kimberly. She said she was attracted to the play, written by C. Denby Swanson, in part because as soon as she read the script, she had a vision.
That vision doesn’t exactly come from extensive direction from the playwright.
“The way it’s written, the playwright gives you a lot of leeway creativity-wise,” Kimberly said. “All she says, like I said, in the script for set is the red checkered table cloth and the light bulb hanging overhead.”
Despite the lack of details in the set, Kimberly said the play reads like a story, which helped her to form a vision of the play.
“It’s very fast-paced, and that was appealing. When I read a play, it has to catch me right away, and if I get to the end of the first act, I have to really, really want to read the second act, or else I just drop it,” she said. “In this one, I really wanted to know what happened.”
The play will feature a bare-bones set, with Kimberly not adding much more furniture than the red checkered table cloth, which she said really brings out the talent of the actors.
She compared it to a black-and-white party, where the birthday girl dresses up on bright colours.
“At this party, all you see is the birthday girl. So, this is how the set works,” she said.
On top of having little occupying the set beyond the actors, it’s also a “still” play, said Colleen Fox, who plays Olive, the woman plotting to kill her ex-boyfriend.
“It’s the stillest play I’ve ever been in, as in it’s not hugely physical,” Fox said.
“A lot of it’s based on the words of the script and the actors’ portrayal of bringing out those characters with that minimal action,” added Jordana Fratianni, who plays Olive’s friend Betty. “So, it is very much a character study.”
Without giving out any spoilers, Hanston and Tony Collins, who plays Gus, point to a dynamic that they say could lead to some tensions between their characters.
While Tor is fully Norwegian, Gus has a little bit of Italian in him, which plays into one of the themes of the story.
“It’s all about how far these women may go when they’re feeling that horrible feeling that you get when love is ripped from your heart,” Kimberly said. “And how the Norwegians would deal with that, how the Italians would deal with that, how the Swedes deal with that. There’s a lot of social commentary, a lot of international stuff.”
Kimberly warns that while there’s not much explicit in the play, it’s not exactly safe for the kids.
“A little bit of violence, a little bit of profanity,” she said, adding that some raw emotionality comes out due to the sheer amount of wine — though not real on set — is drank during the play.
The Norwegians runs Thursday to Sunday every week from July 6 to 30, running at 2 p.m. on Sunday and 8 p.m. every other day.