Sex, Scrabble and Murder: Sheridan Morley on Ibsen's Late-Life Crisis, a Woolly Stoppard and a Powerful Dose of Inner-City Reality. (Theatre)

By Morley, Sheridan | New Statesman (1996), July 7, 2003 | Go to article overview

Sex, Scrabble and Murder: Sheridan Morley on Ibsen's Late-Life Crisis, a Woolly Stoppard and a Powerful Dose of Inner-City Reality. (Theatre)


Morley, Sheridan, New Statesman (1996)


I cannot recall a better time in the West End for the plays of Henrik Ibsen. Already we have Natasha Richardson in The Lady From the Sea and Ralph Fiennes in Brand. Now we get Anthony Page's sharp revival of The Master Builder at the Albery Theatre.

Patrick Stewart's elegant Solness is first amused, then intrigued, then besotted with the young Hilda. His explosive and highly sexual performance goes a long way towards understanding that The Master Builder is really Ibsen's dramatisation of his late-life crisis, a complaint against being an old man in love with a young girl, a situation from which no good can come.

Solness's tragic wife, Aline, is played by Sue Johnston with real pathos and without a trace of melodrama. Public attention will no doubt focus on the title role's being played by Patrick Stewart, best known as Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek; and we will also surely be constantly reminded that this production's Aline is Barbara of The Royle Family.

All of which may well be good news for a currently sluggish West End box office, but makes nonsense of a simple fact, that both Stewart and Johnston have long and distinguished careers in serious theatre. If we persist in showing interest only in familiar names from the screen, we are going to reduce still further the ranks of those who wish to be stage actors.

That said, Anthony Page's triumph is to remind us that this play is not simply about the title character. Almost every character here is defined by what the master builder has done to them.

John Logan's new adaptation comes as something of a shock. Not only are there laughs, but the sexuality is incredibly powerful: the two girls (Katherine Manners as Kaia Fosli and Lisa Dillon as Hilda Wangel, both immensely impressive in their first major West End roles) clearly find Solness's ability to scamper up his own buildings little short of orgasmic. This wasn't Freud's favourite play for nothing: why does Ibsen have Solness continue building until 1892, the year he was writing, if not to show he knew the importance of psychosexuality?

Thirty years ago, when Tom Stoppard's Jumpers was first staged by the National Theatre (then at the Old Vic), it achieved one remarkable record: more copies of the published script were sold to members of the audience than any other play. …

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
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

Sex, Scrabble and Murder: Sheridan Morley on Ibsen's Late-Life Crisis, a Woolly Stoppard and a Powerful Dose of Inner-City Reality. (Theatre)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

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

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.