What we see without the Group: click HERE or on the ads below to see our comments.
>News and Information: Please scroll down the page
IF YOU WANT TO KNOW WHERE TO FIND THE CHEAPEST AGENCIES TO BOOK THEATRE TICKETS, CLICK HERE
The Donmar's Lady from the Sea
There’s a small number of Shakespeare’s plays – Measure for Measure, All’s Well that Ends Well – that are collectively known as Problem Plays. Social and moral issues are explored, and the resolutions are strangely unsatisfactory.
In his many plays, Ibsen also raised thorny questions about the oppressive nature of his society and the subjection of women in marriage, and the often tragic conclusions have led to him (rather unfairly) being dubbed a prophet of doom and gloom.
Except in one remarkable instance: The Lady from the Sea. It concerns a woman’s search for freedom and identity within marriage, and encompasses the possibilities that were - and were not - open to women in his day, but he paints with a lighter palette that we might expect. Although clearly an Ibsen play in theme and structure, this drama is so distinct from his other work that it could be fairly regarded as Ibsen’s Problem Play.
In the Donmar production, writer Elinor Cook has updated the period of the play and set it in the Caribbean, without disturbing the balance of the original work. It is suggested that whatever issues exercised Ibsen in 19th century Norway are relevant in any period, in any setting.
Mike and I attended a Director’s Forum performance, which was followed by a discussion led by Stephanie Dittmer, the Director of Development. Stephanie reminded us that the play was written 130 years ago, and asked the actors if it still felt true to women’s experience.
Nikki Amuka-Bird, who plays Ellida, the Lady in the title, said that she had longed to play Ibsen for some time. As a classically-trained actress, she was eager to flex her muscles on his work, because of his complete understanding of women. She also believes that the issues raised in the play are eternal. She had had struggles with Elinor to retain more of the original text (Note: there are very few plot changes from the original) and they had debated how to hold on to the essence of the play. In the end, she found that Elinor had heightened some themes. As a result, Nikki found herself pushed further into her performance than she ever expected.
Elinor had wanted to make it clear that men are bound by social conventions as well, and Johnny Holden pointed out that they were fortunate to have the writer with them in rehearsals, both to answer questions and to give them freedom to make the characters their own.
All the cast spoke enthusiastically about their director, Kwame Kwei-Armah. Kwame made them all attend all rehearsals, whether they were in the scene being rehearsed or not. He wanted the play to be a collaborative effort; everyone could ask questions and make suggestions.
The commitment of the actors to the play was very apparent, though it remains a strange blend of social realism and romantic comedy, with an added touch of mythology (think The Flying Dutchman and The Little Mermaid). It’s a rare Ibsen. In every sense.
OUR PREVIOUS NEWS ITEMS FROM THIS WEBSITE CAN BE SEEN HERE.
Theatre News Headlines are brought to you by whatsonstage.com, the leading UK theatre website, and are automatically updated throughout the day. You will find articles, reviews, interviews - just click on each headline for the full story.
Alternatively, you can go direct to the WhatsOnStage website by clicking HERE.
This is a not-for-profit UK theatre-going group for our friends and colleagues and their own extended group of friends. It costs nothing to join us but must be by personal introduction from another member of the group. We provide tickets at group discounts for London theatres (and coach transport from Southend, if required).
They make ideal gifts for theatre-going friends. They are available in denominations of £20, £10 and £5 and can be used to buy theatre tickets at all West End theatres and the half-price tkts booth in Leicester Square. You can buy them from us and we accept them too.