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Mary-Arrchie Theatre’s “Ibsen’s Ghosts” Review – Only for Ibsen Junkies

By Amy Munice

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(pictured) Carolyn Hoerdemann as Mrs. Alving in Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.’s world premiere of IBSEN’S GHOSTS

 

“Ibsen’s Ghosts” is an original adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play by the same name.

 

The original script, rejected for production in Scandinavia actually found its first home in Chicago in 1892.  One of the most interesting things about this production is the program notes’ inclusion of the scathing reviews of the original that use words like “loathsome”, “an offal”, and “a wicked nightmare”.  The play’s themes of incest and syphilis apparently excited these strong reactions.   Today such topics just aren’t that passion provoking. 

 

(left to right) Kirk Anderson as Engstrand, Carolyn Hoerdemann as Mrs. Alving, Stephen Walker as Pastor Manders, Catherine Lavoie as Regina and Gage Wallace as Oswald in Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.’s world premiere of IBSEN’S GHOSTS, an original adaptation of the play by Henrik Ibsen, adapted and directed by Greg Allen

 

Nor--for those of us who aren’t hardcore Ibsen junkies-- is this production. 

 

(pictured) Gage Wallace as Oswald in Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.’s world premiere of IBSEN’S GHOSTS

 

The script is laced with many humorous self-referential moments delivered with aplomb by a super-talented cast.   Carolyn Hoerdemann as Mrs. Alving is magnetic. 

 

(pictured) Stephen Walker as Pastor Manders in Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.’s world premiere of IBSEN’S GHOSTS

 

Stephen Walker as Pastor Manders hams it up with great flourish and we quickly become addicted to anticipating his next line or gesture..  Not only does Kirk Anderson as the disabled Jacob Engstrand command the stage, but many of us are left intrigued and puzzled by how he was able to walk smoothly with one leg half a foot shorter than the other (Costume Design:  Sarah Jo White). 

 

(pictured) Gage Wallace as Oswald in Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.’s world premiere of IBSEN’S GHOSTS

 

The cast is rounded out by Catherine Lavoie from Montreal who plays Regina Engstrand and by Gage Wallace as the syphilitic returned prodigal son, Oswald Alving, These two actors similarly deliver the goods with their craft.    

 

(left to right) Catherine Lavoie as Regina, Carolyn Hoerdemann as Mrs. Alving, Kirk Anderson as Jacob Engstrand and Stephen Walker as Pastor Manders in Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.’s world premiere of IBSEN’S GHOSTS,

 

With all this talent overflowing from the stage you too might end up wishing they had more to work with. 

 

(left to right) Carolyn Hoerdemann as Mrs. Alving and Catherine Lavoie as Regina in Mary-Arrchie Theatre Co.’s world premiere of IBSEN’S GHOSTS

 

One imagines that Director and Adapter Greg Allen has spent a lot of time luxuriating in Ibsens’ works.  If that is similarly one of your pre-occupations “Ibsen’s Ghosts” would be a most satisfying theater experience.

 

Now through December 20.

 

Angel Island

735 West Sheridan

Chicago, IL

 

For tickets or information call 773 871 0442 or visit the Mary Arrchie website.  

 

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- Photos by Joe Mazza/Brave Lux.

Published on Nov 16, 2015

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