Although a few venues are valiantly reopening this month, with small-scale shows and new writing, here is a chance to see a full-length classic with a larger cast. At the moment no show needs more to sell itself!
The production, presented by The Acting Gymnasium, has problems: rehearsals during lockdown can’t have been easy and one performer lost her voice as the run was about to begin (resulting in an admirable stand-in from Gintare Smigleskyte, working from the book).
Despite less than ideal circumstances, the chance to see this early masterpiece from Ibsen – a story of two sons and their fathers, with lots of indignation and insight – is well worth it. With metaphorical and moral blindness pitted against idealism, there should be plenty of thought provoked.
The show is solid rather than imaginative and the result a little stilted. A notable lack of Ibsen’s humour isn’t just down to the play being a particularly pessimistic tragicomedy. It’s also hard not to see the roles of Relling and Molvik (played by Crispin Holland and Eugene Doris respectively) as somewhat lost. Heavy handed it may be, but Ibsen wrote a doctor and a theologian in for a reason and they should stand out more.
Nonetheless, the ensemble supports one another well – and it really is great to see more than one person on a stage at a time. Irving Jones and Alan Kenny stand out as the older generation, with murky secrets suggested skilfully. For their sons, Kim Gjersoe does best when his character, Gregers, shows righteous outrage (which is, thankfully, quite often). Dhvel Patel takes the more sympathetic role of Hjalmar. Patel’s delivery could be clearer: louder, slower and with less fussing over props. But there is clearly an intelligent appreciation of the text and fine touches to enjoy from the depiction of a complex character.
Spacious for a fringe venue, with chairs removed Theatro Technis can accommodate 45 comfortably. I’ve seen plenty of shows with viewer seats occupied. Given the admirable work here, this Camden venue is well placed to carry a torch for fringe theatre during lockdown. Fingers crossed.
Until 26 September 2020