Lars Sørken: A Norwegian Noir

Tue 21st – Sat 25th February 2012


Stan Pinsent

at 11:51 on 22nd Feb 2012



The action kicks off with our hero, Theatre Detective Lars Sorken, seemingly solving a murder case at the scene, with Holmes-esque attention to detail and Poirot-esque breaking down of the suspects.

Alas, as I think the audience expected, we were only on the very brink of a much deeper mystery.

Lazy, jazzy jangles of piano rise like cigarette smoke as we slip into the next scene and into a Scando-Oxonian world of film noir studies, cafes and underground studios. Instantly we’re unsure of what's real, whether we’re set in Oslo or Oxford and who’s really pulling the strings behind all this sex, murder and paparazzi scandal. The end result is a confusing, yet atmospheric sequence of quick, snappy scenes as the plot constantly thickens.

The characters are cast in caricature: Lars provides our stalwart detective; observant, calm and arrogant; a fair match for our enigmatic lady in red who saunters, exaggeratedly suggestively, into the action looking for who knows what. We have a stock sassy journalist character after her big break and perhaps even the truth, as well as a fantastically acted fickle friend type complete with

flairs and Norwegian accent. Sophia, Lars’ assistant, would in any other film noir story have been a secondary love interest, but I much prefer her role here as the saucily accented brains behind the

operation, with more nouse than you could shake a stick at.

And yet beyond all this carefully constructed film noir-ery, I can’t quite fit it together. Each twist of the plot or three-line mini-scene leaves me reeling, while I should be listening to this new chat

about a trafficking racket or something, and now the guy next to me whispers to his friend ‘Is this a flashback?’ and I’m thrown into fresh throes of confusion. It’s all part of the fun, I tell myself, it’s a

mystery; you’re not meant to know whats going on anyway.

"A Norwegian Noir" has some charming ideas; for example, that suspects of a crime are best observed as actors on the stage, whose minute details betray their innermost secrets. It does a good job, too, of painting modern Oxford as thirties Chicago with little more than a few jangly notes and a trench coat. But although few will leave "Lars" feeling intellectually unchallenged, the labrythical plot might prove too much for those with a sub bicential IQ.


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