Norwegian Wood: Sheridan Morley on a Damp Ibsen, an Early Mamet and Shakespeare out of His Time. (Theatre)

By Morley, Sheridan | New Statesman (1996), June 2, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Norwegian Wood: Sheridan Morley on a Damp Ibsen, an Early Mamet and Shakespeare out of His Time. (Theatre)


Morley, Sheridan, New Statesman (1996)


Another week, another London theatre refurbished and reopened thanks to the loot from the Lottery and elsewhere, which has enabled and encouraged a vast range of playhouses to call in either the builders or a new artistic director. In this case, it is Michael Attenborough as the resident director, who has called in Trevor Nunn, until recently in charge of the National, to stage The Lady From the Sea. This production makes the best of the Almeida's original home; thankfully, the major changes only amount to more comfortable seating and an indoor foyer and bar.

Written in 1888 when Ibsen was living in Munich and clearly nostalgic for the fjords of Norway's west coast, The Lady From the Sea has always been a tricky one for actors and critics alike, since the entire drama hangs on one single decision made in the last act: I won't give it away, hut ask you to recall the airport scene in Casablanca.

Over here, there has been only one major revival in the postwar years, back in 1979, when the central role of Ellida was played by Vanessa Redgrave. A quarter-century later we get her daughter, Natasha Richardson, unmistakably a Redgrave from the tall, gangling stage presence to a voice that sounds like gravel run through honey.

However, for the play to work, and it was a triumph for Eleanor Duse a century or so ago, you need an extraordinary actress capable of suggesting a whole other life: but they don't teach how to be mesmeric at drama schools -- even to Redgraves. Ibsen pasted together a rather ramshackle plot to allow for a crucial debate about feminism, the rights of a wife within a marriage, and reasons for marriage itself. Written barely two years before Ibsen's best-known play, we can now see Ellida as a prototype for Hedda Gabler. Pam Gems's new version of The Lady From the Sea underlines its feminism but still doesn't really fix the problems of somebody who belongs to the sea rather than the land: the result is neither wet nor dry, just a little damp.

David Mamet found in his native Chicago a quick-fire dialect of the streets that had never before been used on stage. What he pioneered back in 1971, when he was barely 23, was a colloquial language that was still very new to the theatre. A Mamet speech can run for fewer than five words, at least one of them violent, crude or blasphemous; sometimes he manages all three. Hearing his dialogue and watching his characters in action is like finding yourself at the wrong end of a machine-gun.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Norwegian Wood: Sheridan Morley on a Damp Ibsen, an Early Mamet and Shakespeare out of His Time. (Theatre)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.