Tuesday 4 June 2024

Ghosts review

In Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts, a family tries to move forward after the death of its patriarch, but there are secrets and scandals, that unlike the recently deceased, will not stay buried for long. This recent adaptation by writer Jodi Gallagher adds an Australian atmosphere to the proceedings allowing the drama unfolding to feel more urgent and sordid.

The design elements all support this Australian environment particularly with Steven Mitchell Wright's set design, with events taking place within the skeleton of a two-storey house that still manages to symbolise wealth and privilege. It is utilised well by Wright, who also serves as director, in the way the characters interact with it, climbing through it, peering through windows and even standing on its roof. Ben Hughes' subdued lighting and Leahannah Ceff's hypnotic composition and sound provide highly successful methods in drawing us into the narrative.

Laura Iris Hill brings a strong performance as the widow Mrs. Alving. While she does not publicly speak of it much, we can see the burden she carries and how these secrets have impacted her life. The ensemble works well together but it felt like there was a case of opening night nerves, and hopefully as the season progresses they will be able to settle into their roles. Emotional responses seem to equate to getting very loud and the portrayal of Jacob is a little jarring. He's just a bit too quirky and comedic and not dark enough to convincingly sell the things he does and seems to be going against the mood that is being built up. 

In the final moments of Ghosts, a fire devastates the Alving's lives, but it all happens too quickly, and we barely have time to process this as characters suddenly spring into action. Outcomes and decisions occur at a rapid speed that breaks the pacing of everything that had led up to this. Up until this point, Wright has afforded us the opportunity to get to know these people and understand their motivations, but we end with overly emotional and hollow performances as we head towards the conclusion.

It's been over 140 years since Ghosts was first staged, where it sparked plenty of controversy from the issues that it raised. While these are still intriguing, the performances and direction in this current production need some finessing to maximise the effect that Ibsen's work can have.

Show Details

Venue: Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St. Kilda
Season: until 15 June | Tues - Sat 7:30pm
Tickets: $50 Full | $42 Concession | 20 for $20
 Theatre Works

Image credit: Daniel Rabin

No comments:

Post a Comment