Ghosts - A New Adaptation Of The Classic Play

 

An Adaptation of Ibsen’s Ghosts Plays at The Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica, now through May 13.

 

Ghosts, a modern adaption of Henrik Ibsen’s classic play follows the story of Helen Alving, the widow of a prominent member of society, who must come to grips with her husband’s dark legacy.

 

For more than 20 years, Helen has had to keep a dark secret about her wealthy husband, whom her mother and two aunts arranged for her to marry. 

Michelle Danner and Paul Stroili

And, now on the 10th year anniversary of her husband’s death, a new orphanage has been dedicated in his name.

 

It is during this significant event, when her absent son Oswald returns home with his own secret that Helen must face the consequences of her former life.

 

Considered one of Ibsen’s most controversial ‘dramas of contemporary life,’ during the 19thcentury, Ghosts launched Ibsen’s work beyond the confines of the drawing rooms of polite society to the attention of the world.

 

When it was first published in 1881, Ghosts was so vehemently attacked in the press, that book sales were seriously affected.

 

Yet scholars, including James MacFarland, editor of the Oxford edition of Ibsen’s Four Major Plays, notes that Ibsen insisted his call as a writer was not to answer, but to ask. And in the case ofGhosts, he wondered what would be the result of generations being raised by mothers whom society denied any reasonable opportunity for self-fulfillment in the male-dominated world.

 

Keeping within the context of the original play, director Doug Kaback says he went through the texts word for word from the basic Ibsen play, then updated it to relate to an American audience in 2012.  The updated language is easily woven into the original text and remarkably does not deter from the story, yet somehow enhances its relativity.

Michelle Danner and Paul Stroili

instead of viewing the conflict from a historical context, we are now presented with universal human dynamics.

 

The result? The theme of the play becomes more poignant as we struggle along with Helen.  It is no longer how this 19th century woman deals with her problems, but how can a mother save her child?

 

Michelle Danner is more than convincing as Helen, the dutiful wife and mother who must come to grips with her choices. While James Giordiano’s performance adds a dash of lyrical whimsy to his character Engstrand making his conniving motives even more profound.  This works well with his relationship to his daughter Regina, played by Lucy Honigman.

Michelle Danner, Paul Stroili and Nate Golon

And Pastor Manders played by Paul Stroili is truly rigid in his views and is the perfect juxtaposition to both Helen and her son Osvald.

 

Yet it is the final scene between mother Helen and her son Osvald, strongly executed by Nate Golon where emotions supersede the confines of language bringing the major conflict to the fore.

 

Ghosts  is directed by Doug Kaback, produced by Alexandra Guarnieri. The casts include Michelle Danner, Paul Strolli, James Giordano, Nate Golon and Lucy Honigman. Performed at The Edgemar Center for the Arts in Santa Monica through May 13.

 

Performances are held 8p.m. Friday and Saturdays, and 5p.m. Sundays. Admission is $34.99. A limited number of seats will be available at each performance at a discounted price of $25. For reservations, (310) 392-7327. www.edgemarcenter.org.


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