Theatre Review: Roshersholm, Duke of York Theatre


Herick Ibsen’s less performed old classic gets a new revival at the Duke of York Theater.

Duncan McMillan’s take on the play stays close to the original while taking some bold steps to make the characters resonate to the modern audience.

The main protagonists of the story Rebecca West and John Rosmer are played by actors Hayley Atwell known for playing Peggy Carter in Marvel’s Avengers and Captain America and Tom Burke known for reprising the title role in BBC drama Strike.

The play deals with aspects of political and social change and was considered to be radical and scandalous when it was first written over a hundred years ago.

The story follows the free-thinking heroine, Rebecca west, and widowed pastor in the midst of an identity crisis, John Rosmer, as they try and come to grips with the changes their country is going through.

Left vs right, idealist’s vs established political class, rich vs poor and the desperate need for social change. It’s hard not to draw parallels between Henrick Ibsens less performed play, Rosmersholm, and the current political climate.

The first half of the play was slow with Rosmer’s brother in law Kroll being the only respite with his outrageous views on class and women and general superior attitude that managed to evoke a reaction from the audience.

It was often laugher mixed with groans from people who probably realised that the Kroll’s dramatized and over the top ideology is not very far from reality.

The second half picks up the pace considerably, however the range of emotion portrayed by the main actors were choppy at certain points.

Rebecca’s sudden burst of emotion, without any obvious prompt, while conversing with Rosmer could leave the audience a little discombobulated.

The same could be said about to Rosmer’s abrupt change of heart regarding his new found liberalism.

McMillan appears to have exaggerated the characteristics of some of the roles to match the current political rhetoric.

Rebecca and Kroll’s blind loyalty to their respective causes and their unwillingness to reason with the other side combined with Rosmer’s ever shifting allegiances, you could almost imagine the characters as some of our current politicians.

Rosmersholm is well worth the watch even if it just to marvel at how a play written over a hundred years ago still feels relevant today.

Photo credit: Johan Persson

Playing at the Duke of York Theatre until July 20th.
Box Office 0207 492 0813.


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