Front Row Center

By Michael Warren

Ghosts

By Henrik Ibsen
Directed by Peter King

front row

 

This play was written by Ibsen in 1881, and first performed in Chicago in 1882, in a production by a Danish company on tour. The critics panned it, calling the play shocking and indecent. At the time, Ibsen’s honest depiction of the suffering caused by venereal disease, and such topics as incest and euthanasia, was considered immoral. What is interesting is that the tragedy explored by the play is caused not by flouting the norms of society, but actually by trying to follow them.

Peter King and a talented cast performed this powerful play extremely well. The pace was excellent, particularly in the opening expository scene. “Helene Alving” is the widow of Captain Alving, and meets with “Pastor Manders” to discuss the dedication ceremony for an orphanage she has created in her husband’s memory. We soon discover that her late husband was a drunkard and a lecher, and that her life with him was a torment.

Monnie King, who is on stage for almost the entire play, is totally believable as the forthright truth-telling Helene, while Roger Larson plays the Pastor as a master of hypocrisy. He probably believes that Helene did the right thing by staying with her husband, although it cost her happiness.

There is a young servant “Regina Engstrand” who is actually Captain Alving’s illegitimate daughter. He had seduced her mother many years ago when she was working in the house. To keep up appearances the carpenter “Jacob Engstrand” brings her up as his daughter. Johanna Labadie plays Regina with a suitably casual charm – she has no money and will take whatever society offers. Meanwhile Peter King is a rough diamond as Jacob, and he also reveals him as a cunning bargainer in the second act.

The ghost of the late Captain is shown in all its misery when Ken Yakiwchuk comes on stage as Helene’s son “Oswald.” In order to save him being corrupted by his father, Helene sent him away to Paris where he tried to become a painter. Now he has come home, suffering from what seems to be syphilis. It is implied that the disease was caused by the sins of his father. Ken gives an amazing performance as the bewildered and agonized prodigal son. At the end of the play, he begs his mother to help him die by giving him an overdose of morphine.

This masterly play was recently adapted by Richard Eyre for a London production. This is the version that Peter King used, and it feels remarkably modern. He and his cast gave us a completely professional performance. I also congratulate LLT for having the courage to choose such a difficult and controversial topic.

The set was simple and effective – I should specially mention the Rainwall effect designed by David Hutchinson. Margo Eberly was Stage Manager (welcome back, Margo!) and Geoff Long was her Assistant. Next up is a black comedy The Same Deep Water as Me, which opens on February 15.

 

michael warren

 

MICHAEL WARREN

 

Column: Front Row Center

 

Website:

 

Michael Warren grew up in London, England and lived on Baker Street very close to where Sherlock Holmes hung out his shingle. He graduated with an Honors degree in Mathematics from King’s College, Cambridge, which no doubt helps him to balance his check book. While a student, he edited a humorous magazine entitled “ffobia” which was widely circulated amongst his friends.
Michael moved to Ajijic in 2000. Since moving to Mexico, Michael has forgotten almost all his mathematics, and has taught English to Mexican students, assisted in promoting musical events, helped to found the Open Circle group, and published his book of poems “A Particular Blue.” In short, he has found happiness. He has appeared onstage in nine plays at the Lakeside Little Theatre.  For the last ten years, he has been writing the theater reviews for El Ojo Del Lago under the byline “Front Row Center.”

 

Pin It
FRONT ROW CENTER By Michael Warren   April 2020 My Fair Lady March 2020 Lettice and Lovage February 2020 Twentieth
Front Row Center By Michael Warren    The Pajama Game By Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Directed by Peggy Lord Chilton Music directed
FRONT ROW CENTER By Michael Warren TributeBy Bernard SladeDirected by Roseann Wilshire   Tribute is a strange play, a mixture of comedy, sentimentality
FRONT ROW CENTER By Michael Warren The ForeignerBy Larry ShueDirected by Larry King   The Foreigner is a hokey comedy set in a fishing resort in the
FRONT ROW CENTER By Michael Warren The Lakeside Little Theatre – A Historical Note   Due to the timing of the plays and the submission requirements
Wordwise With Pithy Wit By Tom Clarkson   This morning, my pal F.T. – who shared the Iraq experience with me during my third trek there – forwarded
LAKESIDE LIVING Kay Davis Phone: 376 – 108 – 0278 (or 765 – 3676 to leave messages) Email: kdavis987@gmail.com November
Front Row Center By Michael Warren    The Pajama Game By Richard Adler and Jerry Ross Directed by Peggy Lord Chilton Music directed
Every Word  Important By Herbert W. Piekow   Every word a writer writes has meaning yes, sometimes they never get published or the book
  VICTORIA SCHMIDT   Column: Editor’s Page   Website:   Victoria Schmidt came to Mexico with her husband, in 2007. 
 Find us on Facebook