|Glanni is rather more frightening than Robbie|
The play is recognisably the same characters in the same world. Local superhero Íþróttaálfurinn (Sportacus, but his Icelandic name literally means ‘sports wizard’) teaches everyone what to eat and how to exercise, and in times of crisis he runs in to save the day. He’s handsome and athletic and he can do the splits in mid-air, which from any other hero would feel like a mating display. His costume in this play owes more to Icelandic elves and folk-heroes than modern athletics, but the basic elements are the same. Here, he lives in a hot air-balloon, not an airship - and he uses it to travel to different towns (we also hear about MayhemTown and BullyTown). He speaks very LOUD in this production, and he wears a magic hat which tells him when people are in trouble.
|The Policeman, the Mayor, Glanni and Miss Busybody|
The character who’s most different from their TV portrayal is Glanni Glæpur. Now, Robbie Rotten is one of my favourite fictional characters, and one I identify with strongly: lazy, self-defeating, and over-keen on dressing up. Glanni Glæpur shares these attributes (and is similarly played, with excellent flair, by Stefán Karl Stefánsson), but whereas Robbie wanted peace and quiet, and so sought to expel Sportacus from town (while usurping his position), Glanni Glæpur wants cash. Robbie carries out his plans on his own, but Glanni hires a gang (of ‘ugly, boring, smelly, thievish’ folk from MayhemTown) to steal all the vegetables so he can sell can sell canned fruit (which is, of course, a great evil). When Sportacus helps the town plant new fruits and vegetables, Glanni resorts to poison. Robbie harboured a secret desire to make friends with the townfolk. Glanni Glæpur is just an evil capitalist, and it’s far less interesting.
|Glanni lacks Robbie's fascinating prosthetic chin and eyebrows|
Then there are the songs. Normally a 20-minute episode has one song, but the far greater duration of the play (which is in some ways a hinderance) allows for a lot more singing and dancing. The best of the songs were resurrected for TV. Indeed, certain songs are note-for-note the same as they appear in the series. Glanni Glæpur’s introductory song goes to precisely the same backing as Robbie Rotten’s ‘Master of Disguise’, and ‘Bing Bang Dingalingaling’ is obviously the same song and instrumentation as ‘Bing Bang Diggiriggidong’. Others are still works in progress. An early version of ‘Gizmo Guy’ pops up, but it lacks finesse.
|Stephanie and Trixie sing of their enduring friendship after escaping jail|
You can see the musical on Youtube, and you can donate to Stefán Karl (Glanni/Robbie) here - he’s currently undergoing therapy for pancreatic cancer and there’s a movement afoot to raise money to support him and his family through the process. You can see some of his finest work in meme form here and here and here and here because this is 2016.
P.S. I almost forgot the most important thing, which is that Icelandic sounds great. It's a very similar sound to the German accents that I find so satisfying. Good work Iceland!