Rosmersholm – Duke of York’s TheatreTweetingit: 4* Most plays by Ibsen come complete with a headache. But a heavy going story is lightened by great staging and an excellent cast led by the wonderful Hayley Atwell.
Ah the joys of Henrik Ibsen; and the first time in god knows how long I’ve been to the majestic Duke of York’s Theatre in St Martin’s Lane. This play has two things going for it; firstly, it’s not Hedda Garbler (one of Ibsen’s many lowlights) and secondly, it stars the beguiling Hayley Atwell; which is a pretty damn good start. At the risk of sounding horribly anti-Ibsen his plays haven’t worn particularly well over the years and the only option is to give it a radical makeover with a fantastic cast. But what the devil is Rosmersholm all about?
Former clergyman John Rosmer (Tom Burke) heads a respected family from the manor known as Rosmersholm. His wife Beth committed suicide a year earlier and now shares the manor with her friend Rebecca West (Hayley Atwell). Rosmer has influence and locals await his voting intentions at the coming election. Will he support the standing reformist government or party serving the ruling classes? Rosmer is confronted by brother-in-law Andreas Kroll (Giles Terera) who picks at John’s marraige to his sister. Memories of Beth’s suicide continue to haunt John and Rebecca as their relationship intensifies. Other figures from the past call on Rosmer; but can he face the future after all that has happened?
An excellent adaptation by Duncan Macmillan still cannot hide a stiff, unwieldy plot.
The subject matter is dry as the proverbial bone; and tries to draw parallels with contemporary politics, which drew polite almost weary laughs from the audience (full marks for bravely trying to find humour in a dour plot) However, the brilliantly lit set creates a visually stunning canvas and unique sense of occasion. There was slavish attention to detail with beautiful costumes that were totally faithful to the late 19th century. Above all there was a superb cast that worked as smoothly and precisely as a Swiss clock; they almost make Ibsen look cool.
Adaptation: Duncan Macmillan
Author: Henrik Ibsen
Director: Ian Rickson
Producer: Sonia Friedman Productions
Box Office: 0844 871 7623
Booking information can be found here
Booking Until: 20 July 2019