Ibsen’s Ghosts

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Kelly Hunter as Mrs Alving and Mark Quartley as Osvald Photo: Alastair Muir

Ghosts, currently playing at Rose Theatre Kingston brings Stephen Unwin’s (who is also the creative director of this play) translation of Henrik Ibsen’s 1800s play. The originally Danish play follows a short period of time of which the lives (and secrets) of five characters begin to unravel, set to change everything.

The cast was small, but it was not lacking; the characters were strong enough to carry the acts along and the echo of Captain Alving was powerful enough that it almost seemed like he was a physical presence on set. The strongest performance certainly came from the mother, Mrs Alving, (played by Kelly Hunter) with a particularly haunting and spine tingling moment which occurred right at the end of the play. The actor, Mark Quartley, who played Oswald also brought a very tormented performance of the tortured Oswald. The idea of history and ghosts carried through all of the characters – makes it seem like they too were part of the fabric, part of the characters themselves. Whether they could ever truly escape from what has been already done, the play deems it unlikely and this idea translated well on set.

However, one thing that did strike me, coming from a production standpoint, was that the play did contain some rather filmic qualities. Some moments felt like they would have translated better on screen when a camera would’ve framed their touching faces, rather than being on full display and witnessed by an audience. Nevertheless, these small moments did not detract from the overall performance.

This is not Unwin’s first take on Isben’s Ghosts and his devotion certainly shines through in the care taken on the production of this performance.