The Master Builder | The New Theatre
Star Rating: 2/5
The Master Builder
Venue: The New Theatre
Adapted and Directed by: Vincent A. O’Reilly
Written by: Henrick Ibsen
Starring: Aidan Keane, Dunan Lacroix, Áine Lane, Jane Myers, Melissa Nolan, Patrick O’Donnell
Review by: Caomhan Keane
It's not hard to see why mounting a version of Henrik Ibsen's The Master Builder would appeal to Sheer Tantrum, or any Irish company, at this time. With the skeletal remains of architectural dreams scattered throughout the city and a nation sore with god, this (believed to be) autobiographical play heaves with resonance.
Halvard Solness (O'Donnell), the master builder of the title, has risen to the top of his field, pushing everyone else down along the way. And while he is perceived to have the Midas touch, his gift has extracted a heavy price from his soul. Racked by paranoia and guilt, frosted with ego and ambition, his monetary success has come at the cost of his artistic passion. It's left him shackled to the ghost of a wife, bereft of heirs and fearful of the next generation. Into this solitary hell walks Hilde (Myers) a cherub from his past, reminding him of who he was and can yet be. But as she lets slip the serpent of her youth, it wraps itself around his perceived Divine right to build, poisoning his already feeble thoughts and leading, quite literally, to his downfall.
The problem with O'Reilly's take of the text is that it never makes clear whether it is stumping for the symbolic, realist or fantastical reading of events and while all three can comfortably reside on stage together the cast never bring anything to the fore in performance. They are turning the pages of the script rather than interpreting them. The result? Stagnation.
With the modern garb and bare-but-for-a-stool set there is an attempt to contemporise the piece but with O'Reilly remaining true to a more classical vernacular he needs to take a tighter reign on the style of performance chosen by his actors. It might have been a deliberate choice to have Meyers play Hilde like a bored American teenager but it is an affront to the character. There is no sense of enchantment or play, no coquettishness. While O'Donnell's affected accent muffled the anger, confusion and self doubt that bubbled beneath the surface. He fails to clearly make the transformation from manipulator to manipulated.
Their differing approaches kills what little chemistry exist between the pair, and with little attempt made by the other performers to dig beneath the surface of character, it results in an unthinking, unfeeling production.
Story by EI Team | 09:00 | Friday 24th February 2012 | Theatre
No comments have been posted for this article yet. Be the first!
Log in to leave a comment
The opinions expressed here are those of the viewer and do not reflect those of Entertainment.ie. Entertainment.ie accepts no responsibility, legal or otherwise, for their accuracy of content. Please contact us to report abusive content