How to Enjoy Retirement Norwegian Style
“We travel in our own way, Oscar and I.”
Written by a Norwegian playwright Bjørg Vik, A Journey to Venice takes place in a city in Norway where a retired couple, Oscar (Tim Hardy) once a teacher of geography and his wife Edith (Annabel Leventon) live with assorted cats called Mozart, Figaro, Tosca and other musical names.
Edith is reading to Oscar from Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot where Rogozhin buys a pair of diamond earrings for a ballerina he admires, with the money from bonds meant to pay off his family’s debts. “You never had any diamonds!” Oscar stops to say with regret that he was never able to buy Edith diamond earrings. We are already getting the idea how literature plays a part in this couple’s life, fuelling their imagination, conversation and pleasure.
The Tellmans then get ready to go on a day trip to the Norwegian mountains, packing what they will need, a picnic, wearing warmer clothing and getting ready to catch the train. Sitting on two dining chairs opposite each other, they will rock and jiggle the chairs as if they are experiencing the movement of the train. The excitement is tangible. The scenery is very beautiful.
It is wonderful to see old people playing make-belief and the experience is full of charm. While Edith is very matter of fact, Oscar can be considerably grumpier. He is always questioning where their paintings have gone and Edith says they are away for cleaning. More like money laundering we suspect as Edith tries to protect him from the reality of living on a pension.
There is a visitor, the plumber Christopher Karlsen (Nathan Welsh) who has come to fix the kitchen issues. As the plumber works Oscar and Edith give us more details of their life and loss of a baby that lived for 7 days. Edith flirts with Christopher and Oscar gets jealous. The home help arrives, the first one was allegedly allergic to cats. Vivian Sunde (Charlotte Beaumont) is rather stressed and hasn’t slept well so her cleaning is a bit frantic. She talks about her life to Oscar.
Edith and Oscar get ready to travel to Venice bringing out the pasta and chianti and props like the boaters worn by the gondoliers. Christopher joins in. His wife is Italian and he can match Oscar’s few words and wears his straw hat. Edith has had this feeling about Christopher that he, like her, is musical and he sings in Italian. This is a perfect accompaniment to their stay at the Hotel des Bains at the Venetian Lido. Vivienne was in the Merchant Navy and she’s a good companion too.
The performances do not make the Tellmans overly sweet. This charming play is affectionate and believable about how to make the best of life. Don’t miss it!
The Journey to Venice
Written by Bjørg Vik
Directed by Wiebke Green
Director: Wiebke Green
Designer: Kit Hinchcliffe
Lighting Designer: Martha Godfrey
Sound Designer: Julian Starr
Running Time: One hour 10 minutes without an interval
Booking to 25th March 2023
118 Finborough Road
Box Office: www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge
at the Finborough
on 3rd March 2023