A fairly, straightforward production of a mysterious Henrik ibsen play adapted reasonably and faithfully by Michael Bradley while retaining the power, conflicts, and mystery of the main character.
Ellida is the lovely lady from the sea, born, raised, and living in sync with the force of the sea and The Wild (at a symbolic level). She is a ‘lost’ character who has to resolve whether to run off with a mysterious seaman (to drown and die are within the realm of possibilities he offers) or to stay with her prosaic earth-bound doctor-husband as his second wife.
Ibsen is exploring, as he did many times, an interesting, complex, enigmatic character (often a woman; c.f.–Hedda Gabbler and Nora Helmer) who has to make a serious choice between self and the group/society under pressure. Ibsen’s sympathies are always with the individual against convention and conformity. But these women protagonists have to flex their will in order to make a break or dramatic change, and sometimes err negatively, as Hedda does, for instance.
This Studio Theatre production at the U of A has a nice, appropriate, flexible symbolic set and soundscape evoking the sound of the sea without being too literal. The cast is uniformly good and costumed. Nicole St. Martin makes an attractive, conflicted Ellida. Her husband-foil Wangel is played effectively by Michael Peng. As the two stepdaughters, Gabby Bernard and Emma Houghton bring out their necessary yearnings and frustrations. Kris Loranger plays Arnholm, a familiar professional, chorus- figure in Ibsen’s work. Billy Brown makes a suitably ill wanna-be movie director and Christian Paul Badiu makes an appropriately stiff, cold, unreal stranger who is Ellida’s tempter.
Only the climax has an air of uncertainty as Ellida exerts some will to make her delayed choice and the viewer is left to wonder if she makes the right and best choices. Ibsen’s Theatre of the Soul is back in Edmonton briefly this week. Check it out if you want something ‘more’ from an interesting little-known play today by the Father of Modern Drama.
7:30 pm nightly; Thursday matinee 12:30 pm.