THE LADY FROM THE SEA
by Henrik Ibsen in a version by Stephen Unwin.
Rose Theatre 24-26 High Street KT1 1HLTo 17 March 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 8 March 2.30pm.
Audio-described 13 March (+ Touch Tour 6pm), 17 March 2.30pm (+ Touch Tour 1pm).
BSL Signed 16 March.
Captioned 14 March.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.
TICKETS: 08444 821556.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 3 March.
Clear, elegant, perceptive production that shows Ibsen writing outside the Doll’s House.
Doctor Wangel seems to have it made. A prosperous figure in a small community, pestered only with seasonal holidaymakers (Norwegian nimbyism here, director Stephen Unwin’s uncluttered English version makes clear), he has two contrasting grown-up daughters, the practical, perceptive Bolette and the impulsive Hilde. And a lovely, happy-seeming second wife, Ellida.
But discontents simmer around the good doctor. Local multi-tasker Ballested is happiest in his simple approach to life. Teacher and artist visitors come with designs on the daughters, and, a decade after Nora Helmer struck-out for freedom from domestic confines, Bolette walks clear-sightedly into marriage with someone her clear inferior in return for the opportunity for travel and cultural exploration.
There’s little to do in playing these men but to stop their romantic idiocies making them seem utter fools; Unwin’s cast manage this through a sympathetic manner. But the significant performances lie with the women. Madeleine Worrall’s Bolette, often arranging domestic details, is very patient when pursued by her former teacher; her temper only slips when telling Ellida that Hilde needs a word of kindness. Alexandra Noen’s Hilde skips and dances around, someone never pinned-down; the only time she’s still is when reading – even then choosing to lie outside the house.
Wangel remains largely unaware of all this. But his wife’s dilemma takes him on a voyage from complacency through guilt to new understanding. Behind the symbol of the sea lies the urging of the unconscious, a psychological equivalent to the social aspects of freedom in A Doll’s House.
When a Stranger, a mysterious, possibly violent mariner from her past comes for her, Ellida knows – and Wangel needs to learn – her choice isn’t based on individuals, or social pressures, but on being given ‘space’ – freedom to choose for herself. In this, he shows more imagination than bank-manager Helmer of Doll’s House.
It’s a tussle not so much between, as within, man and wife, and is beautifully played by Joely Richardson’s Ellida, always seeming to half-belong elsewhere. And supremely by Malcolm Storry, whose imposing physique emphasises the gentleness of voice as Wangel struggles to a new understanding of human relationships.
Doctor Wangel: Malcolm Storry.
Ellida Wangel: Joely Richardson.
Bolette: Madeleine Worrall.
Hilde: Alexandra Noen.
Arnholm: Richard Dillane.
Hans Lyngstrand: Sam Crane.
Ballested: Robert Goodale.
The Stranger: Gudmundur Thorvaldsson.
Tourists: Eleni Sauvageau, Kim Cormac, Kylan E Conroy, Dyveke Hoem, Ioana Dorofte, Matthew Wickey, Adam Wollerton, Brandon Johnson, Robin Milton.
Director: Stephen Unwin.
Designer: Simon Higlett.
Lighting: Malcolm Rippeth.
Sound: John Leonard.
Music: Corin Buckeridge.
Costume: Mark Bouman.
Assistant director: Anna Ostergren.