REVIEW: GHOSTS, Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead

Five star rating In another of the season of classic plays at Pentameters, Harry Meacher is giving us his version of Ibsen s most scandalous play. The programme quotes a Copenhagen theatre manager as saying the play

GHOSTS

Pentameters Theatre, Hampstead

Five star rating

In another of the season of classic plays at Pentameters, Harry Meacher is giving us his version of Ibsen's most scandalous play.

The programme quotes a Copenhagen theatre manager as saying the play was "a repulsive, pathological phenomenon which, by undermining the morality of our social order, threatens its foundations". No wonder the Victorians received it with horror. It is a feminist, political drama, a scathing attack on Christian hypocrisy. Euthanasia is touched upon and venereal disease discussed, though never named.

The set and lighting is devised by Richard Newman and he has wrought yet another miracle on this small stage - the Victorian setting with panelled walls, realistic fireplace and two distinct acting areas sets the claustrophobic atmosphere perfectly, as do the stark black costumes of the seemingly "respectable" characters. One of these is Pastor Manders - a man for whom the word hypocrite might have been invented - wonderfully portrayed here by Paul Mooney.

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Valerie Holliman as Mrs Alving is always enchanting and beautiful, mischievous in her teasing of the pastor, hiding the tragedy of her life with a licentious husband and her failed escape from him due to her wifely duty. Dan Wilder is perfectly cast as Oswald, her artistic son living in the shadow of a brutal father. Seamus Newham makes a magnificent Engstrom and brings a lot of comedy to his role. Saskia Willis plays his attractive but heartless stepdaughter Regina, a flirtatious but ambitious young woman with an eye for the main chance.

Meacher and his fantastic cast, together with great production values, give a thoroughly satisfying interpretation of this important social document.

Until March 10

Aline Waites

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