Troll review – sweetly silly Nordic comedy is monstrous fun

Underbelly Cowgate, Edinburgh
The real beasts – not the internet kind – have come to teach us their ways, learn human stuff and dish the dirt on billy goats

It’s not easy being green. Just ask these two trolls, sporting hoodies, tights and trainers in various shades of grass and moss. The duo have left their Nordic homeland on a mission to rehabilitate this most maligned of creatures – but they are eager to learn about us, too.

Which means there is a lot of audience participation in Norwegian clowns Marie Kallevik Straume and Anna Marie Simonsen’s irresistibly silly show. But, despite their quarrelsome folkloric reputation, conveyed by a simmering stubbornness in both’s demeanour, it is done with great cheer. This feelgood hour suggests that abusive keyboard warriors have been giving trolls a bad name.

Chris Larner’s bombastic music sets the tone for the pair’s pride in the traditions of trolldom and we are invited to pay respect to the rock that rests in cushioned reverence upstage. The comedy is as goofily verbal as it is physical. Using partially decipherable troll language, they clamber through the audience inquisitively sniffing at us with outrageous strap-on noses, displaying orgasmic delight at human scent. Just be careful not to touch their tails.

Tightly directed by Cecily Nash, Straume and Simonsen’s gentle mode of self-mockery quickly makes you fond as well as slightly fearful of our hosts who are prone to adopting a stance – chest out, arms pointing down – intended to display their mighty strength. Behold Straume’s crestfallen face, eyes widening with disbelief, when someone in the front row effortlessly outdoes her feat of endurance. When the pair come to reclaim the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff from the point of view of the “sweet innocent troll” the hilarity is tinged with sympathy.

Only in the final stretch does the show begin to waver as the pair, now speaking English, present a slideshow on their representation in popular culture and hold a cranky Q&A with the audience. But this sprightly hour is soon back on track for a hummable finale that encourages us all to be more troll.


Chris Wiegand

The GuardianTramp

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