Henrik Ibsen’s Ghosts Thrills Year 13 English Students
By Clemency G, Year 13
The Year 13 English Literature trip to the Sam Wanamaker playhouse to see Henrik Ibsen’s ‘Ghosts’ was a rapid, thrilling, interval-free 100 minutes with the pace of a thriller but also, under the candlelight, exuded an unsettling dream-like quality comparable to a fever dream. The small, dim, candlelit playhouse perfectly emphasised the dark, taboo themes the play explores, such as incest, infidelity and hereditary disease. The atmosphere of darkness and deceit is further emphasised by the small, claustrophobic stage space deepened only by a mirror wall, symbolising emotional reflection and recollection, and the textured deep red floor which characters walked on barefoot, potentially symbolic of the inside of a brain. The candelabras being lit and relit fittingly symbolise themes of love and light and deceit and darkness permeating throughout the play.
The obvious naturalism of ‘Ghosts’ intrinsic to Ibsen’s style as a playwright is peppered with bitter humour and shocking sensuality: characters crawl and writhe on the fluffy maroon scarlet floor barefoot, a bottle of champagne is emptied over widow Helene Alving’s head, who (Hattie Morahan) straddles her son Oswald in an attempt to calm him, and attacks Pastor Manders (Paul Hilton), knocking him to the ground. The final scene between mother and son, staged to include the gradual, terrible, final extinguishing of the stage candles, is horribly shocking and passionate and for some, incredibly moving.