29 February 2012

The Lady from the Sea at the Rose

The Rose Theatre and I still do not get on.

I am doing my best to like it, and I even have tickets for two more shows, but nothing I have seen there so far has been special and The Lady from the Sea was decidedly poor.

I have seen a few Ibsen plays over the years and I really loved The Dolls House at the Arcola Theatre last year, so I went to this with some reasonable expectations. Though, to be fair, I was a cheapskate and went during the preview week to get cheaper seats.

The Lady from the Sea tells the tale of a woman who is haunted by a relationship in her past and wonders if she made the right decision.

She married somebody else (his second wife) and moved away from her home town to live with him and his two daughters. Step daughters and Mum are not close.

Then news comes that the old flame is not only alive but working on a steamer that is due to visit the local port. The flame duly arrives to claim his former lover and she needs to decide again which path to take.

So, like other Ibsen plays, it is a tense emotional drama with a limited amount of action. And that's fine as long as it is presented well but I found the Rose's production lacking in some key areas.

The set was simple enough (which I like) though you would never have guessed that it was meant to be Norway.

I also felt that it was too bright for the emotions that it was trying to portray. It reminded me of a P S Kroyer painting, and that's a happy scene in flat Denmark.

Some of the casting I found a little awkward.

The Lady and her husband I could believe in (him possibly more than her) but the rest of the cast seemed to float around the story with little purpose or intent. The old flame did not flicker let alone burn with any passion.

It was also very static, rather like those ballets where only the person dancing is allowed to move. Some of the more intense and dramatic scenes were little more than the two actors standing still and talking to each other. No movement and no passion.I am sure that the play would have been just as effective in audio only.

I left the Rose extremely disappointed with what I had seen and the only consolation was that I had enjoyed it far more than the couple at the bus stop.

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