ST JOHN’S NIGHT
by Henrik Ibsen translated by James McFarlane.
Jermyn Street Theatre 16b Jermyn Street SW1Y 6ST To 4 August 2012.
Mon–Sat 7.30 pm Mat Sat 3.30 pm & 19 July, 2 August 3.30pm.
Runs 1hr 40min One interval.
TICKETS: 0207 287 2875.
Review: William Russell 13 July.
Smiles on a Summer Night.
Delightful, amusing and at times quite bonkers, this “lost” Ibsen play – he did not include it in his collected works – is given its UK premier and proves well worth being rediscovered.
In it the 24 year old dramatist sends up his fellow countrymen who rampaged happily through the myths of the past, of trolls, midsummer rituals and general mayhem among rustic nymphs, errant and yokels, lusty believing whatever they wished to believe.
It is the world of Gilbert and Sullivan’s Bunthorne and, since two ill-assorted couples end up lost in the wilderness persecuted by a goblin who lives in the attic of the family home, also of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At times one has no idea what is going on and why – it has all to do with a possibly wicked stepmother, a downtrodden step-daughter who is away with the fairies as it were, her romantic but foolish step sister, and two suitors, a dopey brother, not to mention the resident troll, and a dotty old grandfather who lives in the house next door.
Some theatrical curiosities should stay forgotten and early works, while interesting for what is to come, should often possibly only be read. This, however, is a genuine find, an actable play offering lots of pleasure in James Mc Farlane’s witty translation.
It is also strongly cast. Danny Lee Wynter, in a hugely unconvincing blond bouffant wig, plays Poulsen, the romantic poet who has yet to write any poetry, with high comic style. Isla Carter and Louise Calf as the step sisters, Juliane and Anne, are utterly delightful, Roddy Maude-Roxby, the dotty grandfather, shows how to make eating strawberries hilarious, a master class in comedy, while Harry Napier is suitably sinister as that goblin.
Musician/ Goblin: Luke Bateman.
Birk: Ed Birch.
Anne: Louise Calf.
Juliane: Isla Carter.
Mrs Berg: Sara Crowe.
Berg: Roddy Maude-Roxby.
Goblin: Harry Napier.
Jorgen: David Osmond.
Poulsen: Danny Lee Wynter.
Director: Anthony Biggs.
Designer: James Perkins.
Lighting: Richard Howell.
Sound: Max Barton.
Composer/Musical Director: Luke Bateman.
Movement: Daniela Forbes.
Assistant director: Max Barton.