Among Ibsen’s Ghosts: family breakdowns

Ghosts, famous drama written by Henrik Ibsen at the end of the 19th century, is staged in a production by the Teatro Stabile del Veneto directed by the Lithuanian director Rimas Tuminas.

Protagonists on stage Andrew Jonassonas Helene Alving; Gianluca Merolli interpreter of osvald, the troubled son of long-widowed Helene; Fabio Sartor, in the cassock of Pastor Manders; in the end Eleonora Panizzo And Giancarlo Previati, to give life to the characters put into the background in this dramaturgical reinterpretation of the young Regine and the old Jacob Engstrand. The one-act adaptation edited by Fausto Paravidino proposes a distilled version of the social and family drama written by Ibsen.

The hidden truths illuminated by a storm

In the scenography, in addition to the perennial smoke, which is a bit ghostly evening fog and a bit evokes the fire of the orphanage present in the drama, a narrative element made marginal, black dominates everywhere in what soon reveals itself to be a realm of shadows.

The installation signed by Adomas Jacobskis it consists of the reconstruction of a living room furnished with high-class furniture that smells of antiquity, dominated from above by an icy and imposing chandelier, and placed on the back wall a large mirror anchored to rods. The latter will at times become dancing, protagonist with Regine and Osvald of a sort of macabre dance that will sanction the end of the love between the two young people, when it will be revealed that they have a father in common.

The hidden truths that in a sort of showdown loom like a storm (complete with thunder that resounds in the hall) on the lives of the characters present and absent on the stage – the ghost of Captain Alving is also evoked several times – have to do with stories of betrayal, sickness, respectability and ill will.

The dryness of the dialogues, in particular the reduction of that rich part of the story that Ibsen allocates to Helene, together with the choice to insert various moments characterized by pauses and silences, makes some themes that run through the drama, in particular that of incest, turn lightly. In the final scene, Helene wearing a veil becomes a compassionate Madonna to whom her unhappy son, plagued by the mental illness inherited from his father, asks for an extreme act of kindness, a vial of morphine in hand.

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Guess the music, which accompany the entire show with a chiaroscuro background that highlights the moment of collapse that this family from the far north of Europe is experiencing, where the air is reminiscent of a Greek tragedy. Following the dialogues, one gradually discovers, partly sayings partly intuited, shrines and inconvenient truths and the fairytale castle walls crumble, leaving only ruins.

In the passages where the family is spoken of, Osvald’s voice makes an insert that makes an incursion into a topical theme, where it is stated that the family is not that tangle of unhealthy relationships governed by the appearance that is appearing in the mirror but it is where there is love between people.

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A matter between mother and son

Andrea Jonasson, class of 1942, a theater lady, she dresses the role of Helene with elegance and sobriety. Gianluca Merolli he interprets Osvald with feeling, a characteristic Ibsenian character trapped in the web of his own contradictions. He struggles on stage with frenzy and then with disillusionment, as he feels the specter of his father’s debauched behavior stirring in his blood. At one point he sings the famous song by Leoncavallo with a beautiful voice and the right sadness Laugh, Clown, to underline that in the situation in which he finds himself there is very little to laugh about.

Among other reductions, the dramatic choice to make Regine wear only the role of naivety, to make the role of the carpenter Engstrand marginal and less Mephistotelian pastor Manders speaks of a stylized version, veering by choice in the tones of classical tragedy, of the work full of complexity and written ambiguity by the great Norwegian playwright.

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Saw the 11/13/2022
at the theatre greens from Padua (PD)

Among Ibsen’s Ghosts: family breakdowns – THE REVIEW