AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
by Henrik Ibsen adapted by Rebecca Manson Jones.
Tour to 16 November 2013.
Runs: 2hr 20min One interval.
Review: Carole Woddis 26 September at The Albany Deptford..
Democracy increased but the aftermath is confused.
After Public Enemy, David Harrower’s reworking of Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People earlier this year, Rebecca Manson Jones’s equally radical overhaul sets the play in a fictional but contemporary small Cornish coastal town, struggling to survive, after the demise of its tin and fishing industries, with plans for an environmentally sound Health Spa.
Turning it also into an experiment in participatory democracy, Manson Jones – an Ibsen scholarship award-winner – draws fresh impact from opening-up crucial scenes by co-opting local actors to play members of the Co-operative set up by the Stockmann family to run the Dr Do Good Health Spa, and giving each audience member one voting share for the night. Democracy in action, if staged.
Ibsen’s Stockmann – a man making an ethical stand – has therefore, here, to nightly face an audience whose actual voting outcome will determine his fate.
Except, in another break with tradition, this Dr Stockmann, is a she – Ti, an activist, back home after working with NGO’s in Africa, determined to get the town back on its feet and appalled when the environmental credentials of the palm oil destined for the Spa are revealed as questionable.
If the environment and ethical trading are at the top of Ti’s agenda, her brother, the Mayor is ready to turn a blind eye to such niceties for the sake of the town. The scene is set for a battle royal between opposing forces of ethical, personal financial and global considerations.
Up to this point, Manson Jones has kept things nicely fizzing with a pacey production, a buzzy script and a cast led by Sarah Malin as Ti, Rupert Holliday Evans as her pragmatically opposed brother and Lawrence Stubbings representing an amoral Press providing contrasting studies in ambition and expediency.
The Co-operative meeting too carries plenty of dramatic effect but where Harrower presented a marvellously ambiguous ending – Stockmann’s inflexibility is seen drawing a terrible retribution on wife and family – no such consequence seems to befall Ti and her family. The ending is a bewildering confusion of outcomes in which Ibsen’s moral ambiguity seems to have been strangely forfeited.
Mrs Truscott: Elizabeth Elvin.
Peter Stockmann: Rupert Holliday Evans.
Bill Billings: Samuel Lawrence.
Thomasina Stockmann (Ti): Sarah Malin.
Petra Stockmann: Yana Penrose.
Kit (Ti’s husband): Matt Ray Brown.
Howard Skinner: Lawrence Stubbings.
Susie Lan: Soraya Chau.
Sam Morgan: Magne D’Mellow.
Lesley Anderson: Iris Dove.
Joe `Popeye’ Trelawney: Tim Gluckman.
Geraldine Bond: Jennifer Lunn.
Chloe Taylor: Lulu McGrath.
Des Fermoy: Charlie Stamp.
Danni Morgan: Emily Thomson.
Tony West: Chris Woodley.
Director: Rebecca Manson Jones.
Designer: Jens Demant Cole.
Lighting: Neill Brinkworth.
Sound: Rich Walsh.
Dramaturge: Sarah Dickenson.
Associate directors: Jennifer Lunn (London & Bristol), Heidi Dorschler (Mullion, Liskeard), Jon Nash (Saltash, Torrington).
First performance of this production at The Albany, Deptford, London Sept 25
1-5 Oct 8pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Tobacco Factory Bristol 0117 902 0344 www.tobaccofactorytheatre.com
8-9 Oct Saltash.net Community School
11-12 Oct Fri 7.30pm; Sat 7pm Mullion School
17-19 Oct 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington 01805 624624 www.theploughartscentre.org.uk
22 Oct 7pm Liskeard School & Community College (Old Hall)
5-16 Nov Tue-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat 3.30pm New Diorama Theatre London 0207 383 9034 www.newdiorama.com