18 March 2010

Ghosts by Henrick Ibsen
in a version by Frank McGuinness

Engstrand - Malcolm Storry
Regine Engstrand - Jessica Raine
Pastor Manders - Iain Glenn
Mrs Helena Alving - Lesley Sharpe
Oswald Alving - Harry Treadaway

Director - Iain Glenn
Designer - Stephen Brimson Lewis

Seen at the Duchess during the week before it's premature swan-song in a brilliant half price seat.

This was an evening but it felt like a matinee. It's hard to tell if posting early closing notices would have changed the atmosphere on stage but it certainly seemed to change the mood of the audience. The lack of expectation was palpable. There were a few too many drama students, apparently dragged there against their privileged wills, more concerned with who they were sitting next too and how much noise they could make with their bottles of drink.

The production is sour. It's wrong and I don't know why. I'm sure a quick scout around the reviews will tell me but I make a point of writing this without the benefit of anyone else's opinion. Early closing is an opinion all of it's own and I can't tell how much that influenced my reaction. Lesley and Harry could not have given more of themselves and I was almost ashamed to be part of an audience that laughed at their total commitment.

I'm going to be bold enough to lay some of the blame for this dull and unengaging production in the hands of Mr McGuinness but perhaps it was all too much for Mr Glenn. These are all good people so why didn't it work? It was my no means dreadful but when I think of some of the Ibsen I have seen in recent years, it saddened me.