Ghosts shocks and moves

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EVENT: Ghosts

Venue: The Studio, York Theatre Royal

Dates: Until Saturday

Review BY: Julia Pattison

York Settlement Community Players latest production, Ghosts, is tucked away in The Studio, while the Main Auditorium resounds to the sounds of Gershwin in Crazy For You.

Directed by Andy Love, this vibrant new version of Henrik Ibsen’s famous play, adapted by Amelia Bullmore speaks volumes to a modern audience, despite being first performed back in 1891. Ibsen’s longer speeches have been pared down, giving the whole play a more modern feel; when a deeply buried secret reared its ugly head you were left shocked.

This play had me hooked right from the beginning; time flew as this powerful and controversial psychological drama unfolded with the imposing all white set design adding to the sense of mystery and suspense.

Mrs Alving (brilliantly portrayed by Beryl Nairn) was delighted to welcome back home her beloved son Osvald (Matthew Wignall) as she prepared for the opening of an orphanage in memory of her late husband.

Once fiercely protective of her maid Regine (Anna Rogers), having a low opinion of Engstrand, the girl’s father (Ged Murray), Mrs Alving became increasingly threatened and perturbed by her maid’s presence, and maternal jealousy simmered.

Ever present too, was the underlying sexual tension between herself and the repressed Pastor Manders (Maurice Crichton) who, unlike Mrs Alving, was not willing to try to break free of ‘constraints and conventions’. Maurice was superb in his role of the Pastor who put duty before everything, whose moral outrage at people “living illegally, immorally”, amused a modern audience.

Ibsen’s ending was ambiguous, YSCP’s unique version was brave and bold, and incredibly moving. A great dramatic moment, you were left wondering what you would have done in Mrs Alving’s place.