REVIEW: GHOSTS Pentameters Hampstead

PUBLISHED: 15:53 09 October 2008 | UPDATED: 15:28 07 September 2010

Three star rating This scandalous play was a heartfelt protest against hypocrisy and Victorian decency. Helene Alvin (Barbara Hatwell) is the widow of an unpleasant man who has lived his life in debauchery. During the early

GHOSTS

Pentameters

Hampstead

Three star rating

This scandalous play was a heartfelt protest against hypocrisy and Victorian decency.

Helene Alvin (Barbara Hatwell) is the widow of an unpleasant man who has lived his life in debauchery. During the early years of her marriage she had run from him to her true love, Pastor Manders, but he, ever mindful of duty, sent her back again.

The play begins 20 years later. We see the sexy and ambitious maid, Regina, played by Agnes Sorheim, disrespecting her ne'er do well father. She brings in Pastor Manders (Robert Eliot) who is visiting Mrs Alvin to deliver a dedication for the opening of an orphanage. She is also looking forward to the return of her son, Oswald (Michael Rajani) whom she sent away as a child from the influence of his evil father.

As the play progresses Oswald develops a romantic interest in Regina and we find that he has inherited the syphilis that killed his father. Thus in one fell swoop Ibsen manages to cover faithlessness, drunken debauchery, incest, venereal disease and the idiocy of putting one's duty before happiness.

This is the second production of Ghosts at the Pentameters and this current one suffers from a rather turgid translation by Michael Meyer. The Nordic Theatre Company is dedicated to promoting works of Scandinavian authors but perhaps this is the wrong play to start with - Ibsen's realism and subtle comedy is difficult to handle. Doubtless these problems will be addressed as the actors become more comfortable with the material.

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