“I looked deep into the fabric and saw it was man made” said Niamh Cusack who takes on the lead role of Helen Alving in this Ibsen play brought up to date.
It was never going to be easy translating the late nineteenth century audience’s shock of infidelity and children out of wedlock into the mind of the 2016 audience.
This version by David Watson, and directed by Polly Findlay attempts to do that. In some ways the moral judgements are the same now as they are then but it was never going to get the reactions of the first people who saw the play when it was described by one critic as “an open drain; a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publicly.”
Set in a living room in what could be described as an ” Ikean”Scandinavian home surrounded by rainstorms and dark skies yet is seemingly plunged into 21st century Manchester in the opening scene as William Travis’ interpretation of the role of the self serving Jacob Engstrand complete with leather jacket, roll ups and a liberal use of the F word.
This is a play in which the moral fabric of a family unravels across one evening with just five characters all discovering hidden secrets about themselves and the others with the Ghost of a dead father and husband looming over all their lives.
Is doing the right thing overrated and is it ourselves or fate that will decide our future the play asks this question.
The incredibly physical performance by Niamh Cusack which brought Helen’s torment to life, she is greatly supported by Ken Nwosu as her son Osvold and Jamie Ballard as the saintly and shiny suited Pastor Manders who moral fidelity and hidden secrets cast a shadow across the lives of the others.
For the audience it is a two hour straight run with the living room literally enveloping them as the drama plays out, you, like the characters, can’t escape. Should we really insure against an ‘act of God’? It’s worth a visit.
Ghosts runs until the 3rd December