As previously tipped (See The Goss, 5 Jun 2007), Norwegian screen-to-stage comedy Elling, starring Life on MarsJohn Simm, will transfer to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios this summer. It will start performances in Trafalgar Studio 1, which has been largely dark since March, on 6 July 2007. The production will mark Simm’s West End debut.

In Elling, Simm – returning to the stage after an 11-year absence – plays the title character who, with his friend Kjell Bjarne (Adrian Bower), must convince social worker Frank (Keir Charles) that they’re ‘normal’ enough to survive in the real world after being institutionalised for years. The Elling cast also features Ingrid Lacey and Jonathan Cecil; all will be reprising their roles in the West End.

Elling reunites Simm with playwright Simon Bent – who has written the piece based on Axel Hellstenius and Petter Naess’ adaptation of the cult 2001 Norwegian film comedy, 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.

Best known for his role as 1970s time-travelling police detective Sam Tyler in BBC One’s Life on Mars, for which he was BAFTA-nominated this year, Simm’s many screen credits include State of Play, Sex Traffic, The Canterbury Tales, White Teeth, Crime and Punishment and Blue/Orange on TV; and 24 Hour Party People, Human Traffic and Wonderland on film.

This English-language version of Elling premiered at the Bush on 27 April 2007 (previews from 25 April) and quickly sold out (See 1st Night Photos, 1 May 2007). Tickets for a week’s extension to 2 June sold out within 24 hours.

Aside from a two-week stint for the touring production of slave trade play African Snow (See News, 13 Apr 2007), the 400-seat Trafalgar Studio 1 has been dark since 24 March, when Harry Burton’s revival of Harold Pinter’s The Dumb Waiter, starring Lee Evans and Jason Isaacs, concluded its run. It’s previously been tipped for Orlando Bloom’s West End debut vehicle, In Celebration, which is now opening at the Duke of York’s (See News, 25 May 2007), and further ahead, a small-scale autumn revival of Jonathan Larson’s La Boheme-inspired musical Rent (See The Goss, 2 May 2007), directed by Kylie Minogue’s former stylist William Baker.

Elling is presented in the West End by Howard Panter for the Ambassador Theatre Group, David Parfitt for Trademark and Finola Dwyer.

- by Terri Paddock