Henrik Ibsen

Adapted, Translated and Directed by Terje Tveit
Dance Choreography by Federica Zurleni
Lighting Design by Finnuala McNulty
Costumes by Sally Winter & Julie Pedder

Pleasance Studio Theatre, Islington, London

30 January - 17 February 2008


Annamaria Adams
Julian Bird
James Burton
Robert Carretta
Robert Cavazos
Frank Fitzpatrick
Atli Gunnarsson
Stephanie Jory
Jenni Lea-Jones
Lucy Le Messurier
Abigail Longstaffe
Pearl Marsland
Claire Russell
Nick Whitley


“A Pleasance look at the serious side of sinning ... The world of Henrik Ibsen’s Peer Gynt is a place of loose morals, gleeful misadventure and heartbreak. Where better to set Terje Tveit’s unconventional new production of the 19th century classic then, than in the prohibition era of the early 1930s? Peer, an unscrupulous libertine who believes that “to sin, you have to be serious about it” wanders seedy jazz clubs and gangster haunts in search of his true identity in the Ibsen Stage Company’s latest offering. ... Originally created by the author to be read, it proved so popular that it was soon adapted for theatrical performance. Ibsen cleverly intertwines his satirical views on the human condition with references to traditional Norwegian fairy tales while Tveit, the ballast of the Ibsen Stage Company, heightens the theme of the timeless-ness further by removing the play from its 19th century settings. It’s a heady mix of proverb, original sin and gangsters by the small company. ... A prohibition cocktail with a kick.”

Camden New Journal

“A synopsis of the original runs to the length of a sizeable short story, which means that translator, adaptor and director TerjeTveit deserves credit for wrestling this down to manageable size. ... Nick Whitley gives the trilby-wearing Peer a nice insouciance which provides its own forward momentum ... A couple of outbursts of nifty choreography are pleasing to watch, and the whole thing is undoubtedly sexier than most fringe productions.”

Evening Standard

“Ibsen’s domestic dramas in a small theatre space makes sense – but his great epic peopled with trolls and madmen, taking Peer Gynt on a journey from Norwegian mountains to African deserts and back again in the tiny Pleasance Theatre space? I approached this production with some trepidation. ... Tveit squeezes a cast of fourteen and a considerable amount of talent onto this sitting-room size stage and keeps them there. It is a considerable feat of physical manipulation of bodies and furniture with dialogues often made the foreground to a melee of dancing figures giving an effect like cinematic close-up. Groups coalesce into tableau moments, picture or mirror frames add to complex patterns, a nude Peer poses like a dramatic Roman statue. Wardrobe doors provide an upstage centre entrance focus and beaded dresses, red feather boas conjure up the atmosphere of a 1930s speak-easy or cabaret bar. ... European directors often seem to feel they can do what they like with a ‘classic’ to make it their own and I don’t necessarily object to that, provided one is warned. ... Skilful in its handling of actors ... they switch styles to match their director’s wishes, niftily cavort in Broadway numbers and play multiple characters, which suggests a wealth of talent, and sometimes can be truly moving ... Robert Carragher swaps roles for half the performances with Nick Whitley, but in such director-led show I wonder if that will make much difference. Perhaps in his other productions Tveit has kept to original Ibsen and I will be interested to see what he does with Hedda Gabler later this year. Will he leave it as linear story? Have Hedda sing ‘Over the Rainbow’? Set in a Chinese restaurant? I’d like to see him apply his skills to a play of his own and try to communicate ideas to the audience not confuse them.”

The British Theatre Guide