Just back from Norway. Oslo. Never really thought I”d be there – Hugo and I are usually more exotic in our travel choices – you know, Vietnam, India, Turkey (which frankly we thought was sort of too normal). So going to Oslo was sort of ho-hum for me. BUT. Then I arrived. And now I can’t wait to come back. The funny thing about a new city is that your mind scrambles to find a cognate – the city that it is like. As you come around a corner, you find yourself saying, “This is like Prague or this is like Budapest or this feels like that big square somewhere in ….in….Vienna?” Finally after a day or so, you give in and begin to let the city be the city you’re in.
I remember being in a taxi a few years back in New York. Coming back to Brooklyn after a late-ish night. As we rounded the left hand turn on Broadway in Union Square to go around the park and head down Broadway below 14th street I suddenly had no idea where I was. I flashed on my high-shcool city, Southfield/Detroit and was instantly back there and whirled around in the cab to catch a street sign. Is this Woodward? Grand? And then a little later we passed Grand and I thought, no, Chicago, there’s a Grand St. in Chicago. Am I in Chicago? Slowly it came backt to me —New York. New Yorki. You’ve been here for awhile.
But back to Oslo. So i came here for Elling. At dinner with director Doug Hughes and Brendan Fraser the other week, we were talking about the play and I realized that I had been assuming we would set the play in a vague American landscape – a cognate for Oslo.
But Doug said that we would be playing the play as is – with very little adjustment. Oslo would be Oslo. The characters would be Norwegian. And it came to me in a flash – I have to go to Norway. I came home and said the Hugo, “Am I crazy if I go to Oslo next week?” “You mean Norway? Ummm, a little. Why are you going to Norway?” “Well, the play is set there” I dropped the matter and thought, I can go online, look at pictures of Norse men, look at websites about Norway and that’ll be fine. Actors and their research. They always do too much. But the idea kept nagging at me. I floated the notion to someone else and they said, “Go”. So I came back to Hugo, at night when he was tired, and I said, ‘I really think I want to go to Oslo” and he said, “You should go”. I got up, went to the computer and booked the flight for the following week, found a hotel called the Thon Opera Hotel and booked that and then smiling went back to bed.