Lots of warm atmosphere and unity on the NRK Christmas calendar.
Christiania Magic Tivoli Theatre.
Norwegian Christmas Calendar Series in 24 Parts
Premieres on NRK on Wednesday 1st December
Series Author: Attlee Knudsen
Text: Kjetil Indregard, Mads Løken, Morten Grøtnes, Heidi Linde
Directed by: Tonji Forland and Atley Knudsen
With: Lukas Langmyr Mabin, Mehetabel Natnael Hailu, Peter Andreas Hjellnes Moseng, Adam Mamadou Bizokunda, Elma Kolbeinsen, Vegard Strand Eide, Andréa Othilie H. Selome Emnetu, Numa Norderhaug, Silya Sigrid and Silya Nymoen m.fl.
This year’s NRK Christmas calendar is Charles Dickens for kids. An old-fashioned “moral tale” designed for a young audience. In this sense, the “Christiania Magic Tivoli Theatre” feels like a very small break with them supernatural elements that have featured National Radio’s Christmas calendars in recent years:
The adventure does not start on the other side of a magical portal in this series. It is located in the center of the asphalt and stone city.
Prior to the rehabilitation of the district and the building of the city council, Bipervika (today only Vika) was a crowded and poor district of the capital.
In this harsh environment, sometime at the beginning of the 20th century, we met 10-year-old Luca (Langmer Mabin) and his father Hugo (Jürgensrud). Luke’s mother passed away four years ago. My father works all day. Everyday life is not made easier by the boys in Vikapaket who describe Luca as a “crutch father”, and force him to steal from them.
Life in Pipervika has bright spots, preserved. Cute “neighbors” who always hung up on the sink. The singer girl who sells matches on the street corner, Tekken (Rose Froeland). However, the best thing about the area is Christiania’s magical entertainment theater: a wonderland where adults and children work side by side, and there is always a hot dinner on the table. Hugo doesn’t want the boy to get stuck there. But he does it anyway.
Luca has become a close friend to all the kids who live there. The Gorgon brothers (Mamadou Bezukunda) and Knuten (Helennis Musingh) are the creators of the game. Constance (Colbensen) thinks so does Luca soooo Cute, and kidnap him as a girlfriend. Little Cherub Werther (Strand Eddy) is funny but anxious.
The slightly older Gabriel (Natnael Hailu) is the most mature of the gang. But she is jealous of Constance, who “secured” Luca, and nervous about the rash that appeared on her arm. Looks like the “shells” of his mother Ariam (Emnetu) in her face, which gave her the nickname “The Lizard Woman”.
Just as Luca’s heat warms up, the sold-out theater troupe ends up in real trouble. The wealthy Potenchon family who owns the building will sell the property. Christiania’s magical Tivoli theater is in danger of falling over on Christmas Eve itself.
The financial difficulties that befell the Potenchon clan are largely due to the Mother Earl (Ellingsen) and the daughter of Lobelias (Wilhelmsen-Grøtnes) high consumption. Earl has expensive habits – and dirty tricks up his sleeve. First, she tries to close the theater due to poor hygiene conditions. When that doesn’t work, an even more diabolical plan hatches.
Ellingsen brings a lot of bad cheer to what is considered on paper the role of a villainous “evil stepmother”. Oh, how poisonous they are to servants. Ai, how good she is at twisting her husband and friends around the little finger.
Langmer Mabin works wonderfully as the upbeat, kind, and vulnerable Luca. Natnael Hailu is as good as the more complex Gabrielle. Haussjord, as stage director Johann, and Norderhaug, as happy chef Faber, stand out among adults, if only because they perform the most important roles. Confusing different dialects sounds like a strength.
Kristiania’s exteriors are recorded mainly in the old town of Fredrikstad, and the streets and alleys through which our heroes have to travel are wet and dark, but in a picturesque and not too dangerous way. The costumes and the scenography look sumptuous, as befits a series with a budget of 82 million kroner. Rich families have a car in the garage and a whirlpool in the yard.
Christiania’s Magic Tivoli Theater uses a few episodes to start right, and one doesn’t seem very accurate at first (kind is ok, bad is very bad). But once it does, it rests well and surprisingly deep, getting intricate in a way that even adult viewers love. Earl’s sad sister Tora (Holth Bygdnes) can break hearts at any age.
VG only watched half of the 24 episodes. But we should not be surprised if good prevails, that everyone learns a valuable lesson and certainly the lesson of Christmas at the end. We also wonder terribly what role match girl Tikken will play when it comes to this.
Watch references 12 of 24 episodes
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