Saturday, November 9, 2013

An Enemy of The People at BAM - an enemy of the audience?

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Directed by Thomas Ostermeier
In the first part of the staging of An Enemy of The People, the play moves along fine, people say their lines properly, the sets are good. The audience enjoy some good musical moments, and a few precious silent moments when instead of coughing, the audience is eagerly waiting for what is going to happen next on stage. 

The direction is not unlike Lepage's work, in the sense that the actors' delivery of their lines and their gestures are played down, they do not constitute the focus of the direction. The tone, the mood brought on by the modulation of the scenes are more important in conveying the essence of the play. In a stunning new interpretation which once more conveys the modernity of Ibsen drama.

Enemy of the People at BAM: the public meeting goes awry.

Things get more interesting as the play progressed. The main character Stockmann wants truth to prevail. He's the only one, all the other characters are gained little by little by the cause of personal interest. A public meeting is organized, and Stockmann gives a bewildering speech. Up to that point, our liberal hearts are clearly on his side. But his ranting causes an unease, suddenly we are maybe not so sure we totally support him. His opponents jumps on the opportunity to address the audience directly, trying to enlist opposition to Stockmann. The play turns into a public forum where everyone is invited to voice their opinion, after the house lights go on. It is mind boggling. Risky. Unsettling. Stimulating. Everything I hope for when I go to the theater. 

Enemy of the People at BAM: audience leaving (apologies about poor quality of smartphone pic)
Last night it was too challenging for a good number of members of the audience who left, indignant, during the meeting. A member of the cast who ran after them to  convince them to stay contributed to the breaking of the 4th wall, and to comic relief. 

The direction of the play then succeeded in a tour de force: the political speakers became actors again, and the meeting turned back into a play. But it was a different play, now, because of what had happened, with a different tone. No more charming musical interludes, instead, passion and conflict.

Published by  -  Arabella Hutter

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