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Fiona Wilson as Regina and Alex Hunt as Oswald. (Photo: Peter Mould)

Ibsen’s skeletons in the cupboard

Henrick Ibsen’s play Ghosts sent shock waves through Victorian high society when it dared to hold up a shattered mirror to conventional ideas of sex, a woman’s place and the one-way traffic which saw men hold cock-sure-sway over society. Ghosts deals with the undercurrents which eat away unseen at the foundations of so-called civil society (in this case infidelity and syphilis) till one day the foundations collapse and reveal the gaping hole that was always there. John Knowles reviews the new production at The Stables Theatre.

This is a play set firmly in time and place and for purists this translation does at times allow a creeping modernity into the text. There is much left unsaid and under-played in this production and for me too much fourth-wall acting, which ultimately takes away from the tension that should be focused within the room. At times, the tension is further undermined by an unnecessary need for comedy.

Ultimately this is a play which works best when the audience feels uneasy and when the pressure is allowed to build to an uncomfortable level and there are hints within the production that the actors can surprise. Particular mention should go to the younger members of the cast, Alex Hunt and Fiona Wilson, who coped admirably with  roles which are far from easy.

It has to be said, though, that the company did a remarkable job of applying the old theatre adage of ‘the show must go on’ when they lost a leading actor just days before the opening. And although Ian Klemen was reading from a script on the night, in a strange way this helped keep the focus centred and within the four walls.

Directed by Lyndsey Meer and featuring Fiona Wilson as Regina Engstrand, David Ames as Jakkob Engstrand , Sandy Truman as Helen Alving and Alex Hunt as Oswald Alving, with Ian Klemen and Leslie Adams sharing the part of Reverend Manders, this production runs until 16 March.

Ghosts, by Henrik Ibsen, directed by Lyndsey Meer. The Stables Theatre, Hastings, Friday 8 March to Saturday 16 March 2013 (www.stables-theatre.co.uk, 01424 423 221).

Posted 18:03 Saturday, Mar 9, 2013 In: Performance

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