THE MASTER BUILDER, London, To 19 March

The Master Builder
In a new adaptation by David Hare

Old Vic Theatre to March 19
The Cut,
London SE1 8NB

7.30pm Mon-Sat; mats Wed, Sat 2.30

Tickets: By phone: 0844 871 7628
Mon-Fri 9am-7.30pm, Sat 9am-4pm & Sun 9.30am-4pm
£2.50 transaction fee (does not apply to supporters of The Old Vic)

For further details log onto Text Relay
By Post
Box Office, The Old Vic, The Cut, London SE1 8NB
In Person
Monday-Saturday 10am-7pm (except when there are no performances, then the Box office will close at 6pm).

Review by Carole Woddis of performance seen Feb 4, 2016:

A masterfully constructed production – revelations
Before seeing this latest revival of Ibsen’s remarkable examination of age, desire, and the sub-conscious, I worried that Ralph Fiennes’s Halvard Solness, the self-taught and `lucky’ master builder might dwarf the rest of the cast and the production. Would the Hilde Wangel be able to hold her own against him?

I needn’t have worried. In a stroke of imaginative casting, Matthew Warchus has brought in fresh blood from the `New World’ – the talented young Australian actress, Sarah Snook for Hilde and American, Linda Emond for Solness’s withdrawn and stricken wife, Aline.

Snook is a revelation. Radiating health, energy and a lethally seductive sense of well-being and intent, you can well understand her irresistibility to a man like Solness – as terrified of scaling heights as he is of the sound of youth baying at his heels. Snook with the luminosity of a young Anna Calder Marshall and Liv Ullman but altogether more implacable meets Fiennes, eyeball to eyeball and terrifyingly never backs down.

But, as David Hare’s nifty new translation insinuates, Hilde’s erotic/mystical/psychological persuasiveness is not only a manifestation of Solness’s deeper desires, called into being possibly (pace Little Eyolf in Richard Eyre’s excellent recent Almeida revival) by wish-fulfillment, but ten years ago, Solness took sexual advantage of Hilde, then a 13-year old.

In a play wreathed in guilt, Hilde’s appearance therefore is not so much revenge but her claim on him for the promises he made to her consequences of actions/abuse a decade ago.

A response, prompted maybe by our modern sensibility to these things, Warchus’ production honours many of Ibsen’s teeming other ideas about will-power (very Nietzschean), the stultification of a marriage deadened by duty and grief (again like Little Eyolf), and power built on fear.

Typically Fiennes is impressive and commanding if too often similar in gesture and posture to his John Tanner in last year’s NT Man and Superman. Rob Howells’s set – a mighty criss-cross of wooden beams and book-cases – too ultimately renders the play’s dynamic prosaic instead of metaphoric.

But you can’t keep a great play down. The Master Builder and Ibsen’s tortured autobiographical examination ultimately triumphs. Forever fascinating.

The Master Builder
In a new adaptation by David Hare

Knut Brovik: James Laurenson
Kaja Fosli: Charlie Cameron
Ragnar Brovik: Martin Hutson
Halvard Solness: Ralph Fiennes
Aline Solness: Linda Emond
Dr Herdal: James Dreyfus
Hilde Wangel: Sarah Snook

Director: Matthew Warchus
Designer: Rob Howell
Lighting: Hugh Vanstone
Music: Gary Yershon
Sound: Simon Baker
Casting: Jessica Ronane CDG
US Casting: Jim Carnahan CSA

First perf of this production of The Master Builder at the Old Vic Theatre, London, Jan 23, 2016

2016-02-06 11:18:45

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