Guest review from Diane Spence
A Masterpiece, according to The Times. Now that was a lot to live up to, I was thinking as I took my seat for Richard Eyre’s adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts.
Being more of a musical fan, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from this 90 minute play. I had heard of Lesley Manville however, and subsequently discovered that she has twice being named British Actress of the Year at the London Film Critics Circle Awards, for her role in the Mike Leigh films, All or Nothing and Another Year. She is also a BAFTA and Olivier award nominee.
Her acting pedigree was certainly evident from the start. In her lead role as Helene Alving, a wife and mother who has spent her life recovering from the emotional fall out of the premature death of her cruel and manipulative husband. Mrs Alving sent her beloved only son Oswald away at a young age so that he might escape the ‘poisonous’ atmosphere at home.
But now he is back and secrets long buried come back to haunt our lead character and the other members of the 5 strong cast. As well as Oswald, an artist who has recently been living in Paris, there’s Manders, the local pastor to which the spark of attraction once bubbled with Helene. There is also friction and a story waiting to be told between her and her maid Regina and Regina’s devious father Jacob.
Set in the 1800’s the story unwinds in unexpected and engaging ways. Ending on a lesson about ‘the sins of the father’ and the legacy that befalls poor Oswald. Although a fairly dark story, it offers up humour and sadness in equal measure (I did notice a few tissues being fished out of handbags towards the end), so maybe pack of Handy Andies in your bag would be a good idea!)
I was also impressed with the Trafalgar studios. All the seating provides a good view of the stage and the excellent lighting and scenery deserve a special mention.
A very enjoyable night was had and based on this experience, I will certainly be increasing my theatre repertoire going forward.