CPH POST 2017 TOP 5: English-language theatre trailblazers in Denmark

Two standout actors and three new theatre companies make up a formidable quintet

As the number of internationals in Greater Copenhagen continues to grow, so too does the supply of and demand for English-language theatre.

READ MORE: No longer a hole in the wall – British theatre actors receive mainstream Danish noms

Viv, Sue and Ian too
The regulars are still here: Ian Burns from That Theatre celebrated his company’s 20th anniversary this year.

London Toast, 35 years young, decided to call it a day for its Crazy Christmas Cabaret, but then changed their mind to quell a revolt.

And Sue Hansen-Styles at Why Not Theatre and the long-established amateur group CTC continue with purpose, each with busy 2018 schedules to look forward to.

READ MORE: Top Five English-Language Trailblazers 2015

Year of the breakthrough
But none of them make our top five this year, as there are so many new kids on the block. For theses trailblazers in 2017, you could easily read as ‘breakthroughs’.

And if the recent CPHKultur mainstream acting nominations (see page 9) were anything to go by, the English language stars are breaking through the ceiling and threatening to become part of the mainstream theatre scene.

5 CBS Theatre
Among the many new arrivals on the scene this year are this group from Copenhagen Business School. For their debut they delivered the farcical, raunchy romp ‘Boeing Boeing’. Everything about it was slick, from superb casting to slick marketing – doing its alma mater’s reputation as a business school no damage at all!

READ MORE: We say “oui” to this fun, farcical, raunchy romp

4 Leftfield Theatre
In the end, Leftfield Theatre’s production of ‘The Pillowman’ failed to reach the heights of its promise. But what ambition! Staged at a pokey venue where loud jazz music started to filter through in the second half, and madly improvised after the pupeteer did a runner days before the opening night, this was a ballsy effort orchestrated by the human dynamo Lee Elms, a former CTC actor who wants to deliver high-octane theatre turbulence to engage the HBO generation. One to look out for in 2018!

READ MORE: Ripping away your comfort pillow to deliver high-octane theatre turbulence

3 Manusarts
Talking big is one thing, but co-producing a whole program of plays is another. In Manusarts international artistic director Jana Pulkrabek, Jeremy Thomas Poulsen of Down the Rabbit Hole Theatre, the resident group at the new House of International Theatre at Huset, has found a true kindred spirit to realise his huge amibition to regularly stage theatre – a mix of the quirky and the home-grown. Based in both Hamburg and Copenhagen, the fearless Pulkrabek has infectious energy. And their discounted season tickets make a great present for that reluctant theatre-goer who just needs that little push out of their armchair.

2 Dawn Wall
Newly graduated from Copenhagen Film and Theatre School, the British actress has been dabbling in theatre for five years in Copenhagen, but 2017 was undoubtedly her year as she notched up over ten acting credits across Denmark, including a sizeable role in the web series ‘Porno Leif’. And then in the autumn, iced the cake with a knockout performance as the title character in That Theatre’s ‘Educating Rita’. From the very first scene, she made the fourth wall’s first floor windows come alive through her curious gaze, which as the play evolved became ever more confident and knowledgeable. It underpinned a tour-de-force of comic timing, thoughtful inflection and impressive intuition.

READ MORE: Performance Review: Lovely Rita, a star is made

1 Charlie Waller
We don’t really deserve Charlie, the 30-something lead singer of acclaimed British band the Rumble Strips, who this year has been trying his hand at acting in Copenhagen. Just recently he teamed up with Adrian Mackinder to deliver a naturalistic rendition of ‘A Zoo Story’ that impressed our US reviewer, and he is a regular at Improv Comedy CPH. But it was in Leftfield’s ‘The Pillowman’ at Huset’s Bastarden in April that he really shone. Like so many musicians, Waller has that unteachable lead singer’s gift of connecting with an audience without looking desperate to do so. As an actor he has similar qualities to Iwan Rheon – a virginal innocence with a twinkle in the eye that suggests he’ll murder your family if he needs to.

READ MORE: Bravo Charlie! Rumble Strips lead singer a revelation in Leftfield’s ‘The Pillowman’