The Depot Theatre brings a long lost and taboo play back to life with it’s upcoming production of Ghosts.
“It was a highly religious world in Norway in 1881 when Henrik Ibsen wrote Ghosts, both the Catholic and Lutheran churches were very prominent,” explained Emily McGowan, who plays housemaid Regina in the play. “The play couldn’t be performed straight away because it was so shocking to the audience at the time. Ghosts has a lot of elements outside what the Church considers a normal marriage. Ibsen puts things like incest on the stage, things nobody wanted to talk about. He’s saying ‘they actually happen, they actually effect people, I’m going to put it on the stage and show you’. A lot of women at the time covered up their husband’s sins in order to keep up appearances and maintain the family,” she added.
Ghosts is set in a big house on a remote Norwegian Fjord where the family is isolated from the rest of the world. The time frame has been moved forward to the 1950’s.
Syphilis, incest, euthanasia, debauchery – so much of what happens in the play is taboo. It’s a melodrama. It’s so heavy. The main character Mrs Alving keeps so much a secret that when things do come out in the open, it makes it all the more difficult. There’s the maternal love of Mrs Alving, the love for her son Oswald is so powerful she sacrifices his childhood and sends him away because she doesn’t want him learning the habits of his father, who liked to have affairs and liked to drink. There’s family love, romantic love and incestuous love.
“Ibsen doesn’t hold back. The characters have so much inner conflict. There’s so much for the actors to work with. That’s the best thing about Ghosts,” added McGowan. (MS)
Oct 7 – 24. The Depot Theatre, 142 Addison Rd, Marrickville. $20-$29. Tickets & info: thedepottheatre.com or email email@example.com
BY MEL SOMERVILLE