ROSMERSHOLM

Henrik Ibsen

Translated, Designed and Directed by Terje Tveit
Lighting Design by Finnuala McNulty

Rosemary Branch Theatre, London

18 November - 10 December 2003

Cast

Matthew Rutherford Johannes Rosmer
Valborg Frøysnes Rebekka West
Chris Garwood Rector Kroll
Paul Hampton Peder Mortensgård
David Thomas Ulrik Brendel
Rosalind Stockwell Madame Helseth
Stephanie Jory Beate Rosmer

Reviews

“Fjord fiesta: Ibsen given an enjoyable restaging. ... As written, the play has only six characters, but a seventh — Rosmer's dead wife, Beate — stalks the central protagonists in Terje Tveit’s bold, expressionistic staging, literalising the theme of the hold of the dead over the living. Turbulent, dissonant violins swirl and underscore the rapturously delivered dialogue with its recurrent feverish talk of white horses. There are few props: a length of draped fabric variously suggests twitching net curtains — a symbol of bourgeois society spying on itself — and a kind of bridal veil for the marvelously perverse Rebekka, played here with magnetic intensity by Valborg Frøysnes. It’s still a difficult play, but Tveit and his company make it a highly enjoyable challenge.”

Timeout

“This latter day Ibsen play hasn't been given the big West End treatment yet but on tonight’s evidence perhaps a swift transfer is in order. ... On a set that feels as sparse as a professionally robbed front room, there's innovative use of a long white veil that is used to signify the walls between rooms and allows characters to stir up their speeches and then, walk out with a flourish. Valborg Frøysnes, as Rebekka, steals the play with her incandescent turn, although the exchange between Rosmer (Matthew Rutherford) and Kroll (Chris Garwood) grow into a furious discourse that relies on the impressive strength of the acting. Director Terje Tveit has made good use of the space and assembled an enthused cast for this worthwhile adaptation.”

Camden New Journal

“Terje Tveit’s translation is excellent with a crisp and elegant use of English with a hint of distance in both time and setting. He directs the piece with a fairly high pitch of drama and pace. You are swept along by the play, which can tend towards the dense and convoluted. ... The cast gave admirable performances with the various confrontations — personal, political, sexual — generating a completely believable emotional intensity between the characters. The casting was excellent with Valborg Frøysne’s sexy extrovert playing off the Nordic gloom of the men folk. Stephanie Jory as Rosmer’s drowned wife, Beate, who acts a silent chorus to the events, pulled off this delicate feat of mime with impressive deftness. I strongly recommend this production. This play is too rarely seen on stage and this challenging production delivers a fine night at the theatre.”

City and Islington News

“This new production makes use of fresh dialogue and has an uncommon energy. Strong performances from the entire cast, especially from Matthew Rutherford as the emotionally and ideologically torn Johannes Rosmer, drive the play. From the enigmatic opening to the disturbing, yet elevating conclusion, the audience are kept riveted to their seats thanks to the psychological and dramatic potency of the production. A number of daring directorial and design decisions are welcome surprises, including a long white transparent drape that the actors manipulate throughout and the addition of symbolic action sequences. The atmosphere of the production is vaguely Hitchcockian and uses film noir aesthetics, from twitching curtains in windows to a discordant ‘score’ of piercing violins. For all its vitality and innovation, the play is unrelenting, the light relief is scarce and the performances necessarily lengthy. It demands attention and energy from the audience, but rewards any investment greatly.”

Hackney Gazette

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