(Seen at the afternoon performance on 26th October 2017).
Ibsen has always been the monkey's kryptonite. Fortunately, newer and better
adaptations are making it far more accessible, and Elinor Cook's new
transposition to the Caribbean is one of the good ones. Fluid dialogue and
well-shaped characters make this 110 minutes pass like a late-season day.
Designer Tom Scutt gives us a pool and arbour set, Lee Curran the light of the
islands and Emma Laxton (sound) and Michael Bruce (composer) the background
The irreplaceable Kwame Kwei-Armah marshals the cast to deliver drama at a
languid pace befitting the atmosphere. Nikki Amuka-Bird (Ellida) is perfection
as a young wife with secrets and near-insurmountable doubts about her future.
Husband Finbar Lynch (Doctor Wangel) is a besotted, confused lover with a heart
but little empathy.
Step-daughters cautious Helena Wilson (Boulette) and irrepressible Ellie
Bamber (Hilde) tie themselves and the men around them in knots, even as they
long for escape. Jonny Holden (Lyngstrand) is a suffering artist under their
spell, Tom McKay (Arnholm) an equally besotted ex-tutor. Their developments
intertwine with compelling moments of revelation.
Of the local community, Jim Findley (Ballestred) gives an exceptional
performance, his voice itself the entire soul of the show, his characterisation
near perfection. Jake Fairbrother (The Stranger) too, keeps an air of mystery
without self-indulgent theatricality.
The politics of love may not come fully into focus until later in the play,
but the depth of writing gives us plenty to enjoy while situations are set, and
the final scenes - particularly those when choices are made - are gripping (a
bit of a shame the "in the round" set blocks it entirely from some seats at
A compelling revival with an equally compelling cast and production team
behind it. Worth seeing, feels the monkey.