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Theatre Review: Ghosts


by Henrik Ibsen

Directed and adapted by Eamon Flack

Belvoir Street Theatre

Reviewed by Ron Lee, CSP

Sydney Theatre Reviews

In the 1880s when Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts was first staged, it proved to be controversial because it addressed religion, sexually transmitted diseases, incest and euthanasia, but later gained more positive recognition as a ground-breaker.

As with other Ibsen plays, the cast of characters includes the family’s matriarch that keeps the household together, the the working class man with rough edges, the academic and the ingénue. Add the l’infant terrible and you have typical Ibsen.

Helene sent her son, Oswald, away to be apart from her now deceased husband, but why? Family friend, Pastor Manders has always been there for Helena beyond the call of duty, but why? Carpenter Jacob Engstrand wants his daughter to live with him. Why? What’s going on his daughter Regina’s mind?

Eamon Flack has adapted and contemporised much of Ibsen’s original script to provide the juxtaposition of more modern language with the formality of the Victorian era. Those were times when people would patiently sit and watch test cricket for five days and be content with no result. Ghosts moves quite slowly and the revelations are exposed and emotion rise later in the second act.

A strong cast has been brought together for this production. Veteran actors Pamela Rabe and Robert Menzies are joined by Tom Conroy, Taylor Ferguson and Matthew Sutherland.

Sydney Theatre

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