Mars’ Simm Returns to Stage in Screen AdaptationDate: 7 March 2007
Life on Mars screen star John Simm (pictured) will return to the stage for the first time in 11 years to take the title role in the English-language premiere adaptation of the cult Norwegian film comedy Elling, which runs at west London’s Bush Theatre from 27 April to 26 May 2007 (previews from 25 April).
The production reunites Simm with playwright Simon Bent – who has written the piece based on Axel Hellstenius and Petter Naess’ Norwegian adaptation of the 2001 film, which was based on the original novel by Ingvar Ambjornsen – and director Paul Miller. Simm’s last stage appearance was also at the Bush, in Bent’s 1996 play Goldhawk Road, directed by Miller.
Elling marks the fourth collaboration between Bent and Miller. In addition to Goldhawk Road, they’ve previously worked together on Bad Company and Sugar Sugar, all at the Bush. Miller’s last production at the theatre was the premiere of Lin Coghlan’s Kingfisher Blue in 2005.
Best known for his role as 1970s time-travelling police detective Sam Tyler in Life on Mars, which has just started its second series on BBC One, Simm’s other credits include State of Play, Sex Traffic, The Canterbury Tales, White Teeth, Crime and Punishment and Blue/Orange on television; and 24 Hour Party People, Human Traffic and Wonderland on film.
In Elling, Simm and his co-hort Kjell Bjarne are the Odd Couple (à la Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon) of the dysfunctional world. What’s the point of ever going out when you can get pizza delivered and all the sex you want on the phone? And who needs a bed to sleep in when there’s a perfectly good wardrobe to stand the night in? Given a flat in the centre of Oslo by social services, Elling and Kjell’s mission now is to re-assimilate themselves back into society. It’s that or return to the asylum. All they have to do is convince their social worker Frank that they really are ‘normal’.
Elling is part of the Bush’s new spring season, the last to be programmed by outgoing artistic director Mike Bradwell, who announced his departure at the end of last year after a decade in the job at the highly influential 80-seat theatre for new writing (See News, 17 Nov 2006).
Prior to Elling, the Bush will present the Glasgow Citizen’s Theatre production of Tom Fool by Franz Xaver Kroetz (Through the Leaves), which tells the story of factory worker Otto whose ordinary life is about to take a violent turn. Tom Fool has been translated from the German by Estella Schmid and Anthony Vivis and is directed by Clare Lizzimore. It runs at the Bush from 30 March to 21 April 2007 (previews from 28 March) as part of a UK tour.
In a season with a decidedly international flavour, the German and Norwegian offerings are then followed by the English premiere of Trance, written and directed by Japanese Shoji Kokami. When a chance meeting reunites three old school friends, they’re eager to get reacquainted. But as the stories they tell become more surreal – from unrequited passions to split personalities, male eunuchs and escaped emperors – they start to question their sanity.
Trance - which is translated by Amy Kassai, with dramaturgy by Tony Bicat and associate direction by Lucy Foster - runs from 8 to 30 June 2007 (previews from 6 June). Currently at the Bush, Mike Bradwell’s premiere production of Georgia Fitch’s I Like Mine with a Kiss continues until 17 March.
- by Terri Paddock