We live right in the middle of the theatre district, and we try make good use of it. Mostly, this doesn’t work, and we end up sitting at home watching Doctor Who, which is also fine. Sometimes, though … sometimes it’s pretty amazing.
On Sunday afternoon we were twiddling our thumbs, looking on the internet for something to do, and saw that there was a free musical … in ten minutes. So we put our shoes on and walked over, with time to spare.
The show was INGVAR!, a new musical about IKEA. Well, not really a musical. More of a song cycle with occasional furniture-related gags. It’s a tongue-in-cheek hagiography of Ingvar Kamprad, the obsessive founder of IKEA.
The music was not as expected, centered on a style I would call “atonal christmas carol” but with variations reaching out all the way to gospel and beyond. And indeed, Ingvar is held up as a “savior” and at some point literally crucified, at least to the extent possible at a staged reading where everyone is holding their sheet music.
The star of the show, as the eponymous hero, was Ryan McCurdy, who sold every odd note and awkwardly-translated-from-Swedish line like a flat-packed ladder-back birch chair. At a one-off reading of a bizarre little one-act, he could have phoned it in, but instead he hand-delivered it fully assembled. (The rest of the cast, in contrast, seemed like they might not have had as much time to rehearse as they would have liked. At least they got to wear lampshade hats.)
INGVAR! might well never play again. Don’t feel bad if you missed it; you can get the executive summary of IKEA’s history from Jonathan Coulton’s version.