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Icelandic Sagas – Greatest Hits!

The Icelandic sagas are the foundation of the Icelandic literary heritage. We’ve covered how amazing they are extensively so when it I heard that the Sagas were getting the stage treatment, all of them, in only 75 minutes, I had to go see it.

I must say I did not have the faintest idea what the show would be like and to be honest, I was a bit wary of the concept. It seemed rather daunting to cram all of the Sagas of the Icelanders into just over an hour’s worth of stage time. The good news is that after seeing the show, I’m happy to admit that they somehow managed to pull it off. The show managed to be both informing and entertaining to laymen and the scholars of the sagas alike. Whether you are a saga enthusiast looking for a good laugh or a saga novice who would like an introduction to this literary treasure, Icelandic Sagas – Greatest Hits comes highly recommended!

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The show touches on each and every one of the numerous Sagas of Icelanders – to some extent, there are about 40 of them! – and gives you a good overview of the subject matter. The play is child-friendly, as the child within me can definitely confirm although of course, some of the jokes might be lost on the little ones. As far as I’ve seen, though, that did not stop the kids in the audience from having a great time throughout the performance.

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Not only is the subject of the show impressive, the performance itself is just as much of an accomplishment. There are only two actors on stage the whole time, yet they still manage to capture and keep your attention for the duration of the play. There’s a bit of audience participation as well, so if you’re not the joining type, avoid the front row! It’s all in good fun though if you want to join in, and the actors do most of the talking, so there’s not too much pressure.

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Despite its light-hearted, witty nature, the play is a really well-composed piece of art that definitely managed to grasp the soul of these sagas. In a way, it was both less than I expected and so much more at the same time. It was less, because it really only touched on the sagas. Instead of exact plot details and genealogical facts, the show represented the atmosphere of the stories. It felt like more than I expected because organising all of the sagas into a play of this length is an amazing achievement. I loved every second of it and I honestly don’t think it could have been done any better.  It’s funny, witty, and gives all the information that anyone interested would need to be introduced to the massive saga literature.

The show comes highly recommended and if you want to make a night of it, Harpa has some amazing restaurants that will take your experience from good to great. For more information about dates and tickets, click here. 

All photos by Lilja Jóns.