Ghosts - by Henrik Ibsen (translated by Stephen Unwin)
18th, 19th and 20th June 2015

Click here for more pictures of this play

Cast        Production Team
Helen Alving Cathy Naylor   Director Andrew Rogers
Pastor Manders Adam Rabinowitz   Production Assistant Lynn Marsh
Osvald Alving Dean Bartholomew   Stage Manager Jean Cooper
Jacob Engstrand Christian Mortimer   Asst Stage Manager Kimberley Packman
Regina Engstrand Gemma Garside   Properties Wendy Butler
      Asst Properties Steph Adleman
      Continuity Mary Lowe
      Costume Liz Adams/Hannah Soutgate
      Costume Sylvia Zilesnick/
      Costume Christine Eckley
      Set Design & Construction Stephen Radley
      Lighting design Terry Tew
      Sound Design Andrew Rogers
      Sound/Lighting Operation Martin Howarth/Sarah Biggs
      Programme Design Howard Platt
      Production Photos Howard Platt

Click here for the NODA crit for this play


Ghosts – Henrik Ibsen

Scandinavian writers, TV series and films about Norway are popular at the moment and as such this was a very good choice of play for LADS, with lots of foresight shown. The subject matter was dark like the landscape of Norway in Winter.  There was little light relief in the relentless revelations a bit akin to ‘Eastenders’.  From an audience perspective, the subjects of Mental Illness, depression, alcohol and drug addition, abuse, infidelity, unrequited love and sobriety all being covered in 2 hours was quite heavy going on the emotions though. The translation by Stephen Unwin made the subject matter very relevant to today’s trials and tribulations within families and I am sure that a lot of people would have been able to relate with one aspect of the various twists and turns as the plot unfolded.  There is a strong moral story running through and above all it is one of a Mothers love for her son and the sacrifices she has made along the way and will continue to make in the future. Also not forgetting a Fathers love for his daughter; I would like to think that one day there would be a happy ending for all of them.

The story was told skilfully by the actors helped along by good casting. There was enough opportunity during this play for all to shine and the director had made sure that all had their time in the spotlight and had opportunity to let their characters come to life and shine through.

Cathy Naylor as Helen was brilliant throughout holding her character together with a constant persona of strength, sacrifice and caring. Adam Rabinowitz as the stalwart and sober Pastor Manders, managed to extract humour, in the very few places it could be found, from a very dark play. Cathy and Adam were both excellent storytellers, holding the audience’s attention.

Oswald played deftly by Dean Bartholomew, took a little while to warm up but when he did the power of his characterisation came across and had me in tears, especially in the scene about ‘ghosts’. The ending with him distraught and resigned to death and his Mother taking the morphine pills from him was thought provoking. I would like to believe that  the advent of the lighter months would lift Oswald’s spirits and he would no longer need the drugs to support him as his Mother, and perhaps, sister would support him.

Jacob Engstrand was played with great forcefulness by Christian Mortimer.  I thought that the darker side we saw of him in the beginning was terrific and should have been maintained for a little longer; some of the humour shown when looking at his supposed daughter was misplaced as it seemed a bit of an awkward moment rather than funny and although explained further down the line, if that moment had been made darker it would have contrasted with the caring side shown later during the fire and the aftermath of revelations.  Christian showed however that Jacob was a strong and confident character and although a gruff person he had, underneath, a caring disposition.

Gemma Garside looked every part the pretty young maid, very, respectful and efficient.  She did know her own mind and after the revelations about her birth, made a strong decision to leave the household to live with her Father and help him with his project.  Her real Father had been a weak de-bauched man but she had taken after her strong willed Mother.   

Overall very many congratulations to Andrew Rogers and the cast and production team on this unusual production which I enjoyed much more than I had anticipated. You should be proud at pulling this one off.  It did not drag at all having a good pace throughout with excellent diction and projection from all.  Thank you for inviting me to write a critique. I hope you will forgive my pickiness; I would never normally mention such details but just to have said a resounding success!  But I have been asked to provide honest feedback.

NB: I was confused by the conflicting accents and spent the first little while believing that, probably due to translation, this play must be set somewhere in England. Helen had a refined accent, the Pastor a non-descript English accent and I could not understand the logic behind the strong Scottish accent of Jacob and his daughter’s Essex accent.  But as I realised, after consulting the programme, that this was indeed set in Norway and not England I ignored the accents entirely and just concentrated on the words.  I do think that without a programme to refer to maybe some of the audience may have wondered where the play was set right up to the last act when the mention of the daylight returning was made.

Set – props, wardrobe, sound and lighting The colour and design of the set were excellent with minimal functional furniture giving plenty of room for the characters to move around and to come in and out of doors.  The costumes, wigs and props all helped to set the scene and period and complemented one another.

The only slight criticism is that Jacob’s suit was too modern just leaving one button undone on a modern cut grey suit did not look right. The jacket undone with a waistcoat and period shirt would have been better but I think that he would have had a dark suit to fit in with his character. When Helen came back in after the fire she should have been a little dishevelled and had some visible smoke marks. These points are very minor and didn’t detract from the whole scene setting, so very well done on an excellent set which worked incredibly well. The conservatory at the back was a good touch as the lighting could be changed on the sky; I thought that it could have been a bit darker to make it clear that this was the dark period and would have made for an even more up lifting moment at the end of the play when sunlight was breaking through denoting light at the end of the tunnel bringing new hope to the troubled family.

The lighting gave great atmosphere setting the mood throughout. The lighting for the fire scene was great! Absolutely superb.

The choice of music was excellent and atmospheric. Continuity was good I only noticed one prompt although I am sure there must have been more.

Critic Jenny Witchell