Review Roundup: Richard Eyre's GHOSTS at the Almeida Theatre
Richard Eyre has adapted and is directing Ibsen's Ghosts, running at The Almeida Theatre now through 23 November 2013. Press Night was 3 October. Designs are by Tim Hatley with lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by John Leonard. The full cast is Lesley Manville (Helene Alving), Brian McCardie(Jacob Engstrand), Charlene McKenna (Regina Engstrand), Jack Lowden (Oswald Alving) and Will Keen (Pastor Manders).
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Michael Coveney of whatsonstage.com says: The action is consecutive, though not continuous, from morning to small hours, and the marvel of the play is always how many crises and revelations it packs in without seeming forced or arbitrary. The difference here is the quickness of speech and thought... Eyre's own text - using a literal translation by Charlotte Barslund - wastes no time in highlighting the maid Regina's impatience, and her acquisition of French phrases (for the anticipated escape to Paris with Oswald), and even makes her drop a tray of crockery; Charlene McKenna's notably vivid performance is the opposite of pert and simpering. Her destiny is being condensed into a theatrical time-scheme from the off.
Fiona Mountford of the Evening Standard writes: Stephen Unwin's production in Kingston is like the fading second carbon copy on an old typewriter of what the indefatigable Richard Eyre, directing the fourth of his five major productions this year, has come up with in Islington. From the start of its hurtling, interval-free 90 minutes, Eyre's staging is compellingly vibrant, with an assured sense of itself. His translation is direct and robust, pushing Ibsen's nuances to their limit (and, occasionally, comprising phrases that are far too modern. Surely no one in 1881 said, "He slept with the girl"?) Eyre has fine form in this area, having previously adapted and directed an award-winning Hedda Gabler at this same theatre.
Michael Billington of the Guardian says: Ibsen may be indebted to the Greeks, but here he also feels one of us: in showing Oswald's return from Paris to the stifling Alving family home, Ibsen confronts us with such themes as inherited disease, sibling incest and assisted death. At points I feel Eyre's new version is, verbally and visually, over-emphatic. Oswald here attacks those who question the freedom of the artistic life as "moralising cretins", and the terrifying moment when Oswald repeats the patterns of the past by seductively flirting with the maid is surely more effective when overheard rather than seen, as it is with the aid of Tim Hatley's transparent-walled set.