We went to see a digitally recorded performance of the recent acclaimed Almeida Theatre production of Ibsen’s Ghosts, skilfully adapted and directed by Richard Eyre. It is a wonderful play about the power of the past to return and haunt the living with its unresolved bitter truths and hidden lies. An appropriate theme indeed at a time when so many loved and trusted British celebrities have been lately exposed for their sordid past behaviour.
In Ghosts, Ibsen, the great nineteenth-century exponent of naturalism, remains true to the unities of Greek Theatre (Action, Place, Time), as his play unfolds and its characters unravel within the space of a day and night. He was without any shadow of doubt a tremendous playwright, commanding an ability to drive his audience along with a force as irresistible as a steam locomotive. What may at first seem to be little more than a domestic drawing room saga, set in the comfortable provincial home of Helene Alving with her liberal ideals, soon has power to make the jaw drop. The past and its ‘sins’ return, leaving a trail of torment and destruction in their wake. Judging from the collective exhalation that came from the audience as the lights dimmed on the cinema screen - this play still packs a very powerful punch even a hundred and thirty years after it was written. The cast were all excellent, however, Lesley Manville was utterly marvellous as Helene Alving, and thoroughly deserved her Olivier award. I think her performance, its truthfulness, integrity and total lack of theatricality, has to rank as one of the very finest I have ever witnessed. Here’s a link to the West End Theatre Series website - some cinema performances are still available. Do not hesitate if it’s possible to see a reprise showing of this.
Judith and I spent last weekend in Cardiff. Since my mother passed away eighteen months ago now, we like to pay a visit home every few months when the feeling of ‘hiraeth’ (longing is closest to the word’s meaning) becomes compelling. “We loves the ‘Diff!” We met up for coffee with a long-lost cousin, last seen when he was thirteen and I was eleven. We’re all chatterboxes and a couple of strong coffees didn’t inhibit any of our tongues any. We had a lovely time!
Then I returned home to the cellar and the great effort I’m engaged in down there. I love a difficult task, although after our busy weekend I did feel rather despondent by Tuesday after realising I had made a mistake the previous day and needed to take another day to undo everything it had achieved. Ah well, I got over it and was smiling again by the end of the week - especially after receiving, completely out of the blue, no less than four new 5* reviews for Roadrage in as many days! All were, as always, greatly appreciated - two of these pieces were so marvellously succinct I hope you’ll forgive my indulgence by including them in this blog post:
“I found this book by chance and it is a riveting read. Fantastic characters, fantastic plot and I would highly recommend to all. Brilliant.” - left on Amazon UK
“Brilliant storyline. A must read.” - left on Goodreads
Pretty good, huh?