Review by Brandon Taylor
The Wild Duck, an 1884 play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, is an observance of tragedy and family dysfunction. Translated into present day by Writer/Director Simon Stone and Sydney Theatre Company Belvoir, this 2011 production comes to Perth after winning three Helpmann awards, following hit seasons in Sydney and critical acclaim during international tours to Norway, Holland and the UK.
The haunting PIAF performance at the Heath Ledger Theatre expertly captures the heartbreak, tenderness and the bloodied jagged edge of personal and familial collapse, using the love at its core to observe the pain of deceit, and the capability of the human spirit to endure.
The Wild Duck follows Gregers Werle (Richard Pryos) and Hjalmar Ekdal (Steve Rodgers), the sons of two businessmen, Haakon Werle (John Gaden) and Ekdal (Anthony Phelan) as personal and professional scandal between the two families is revealed. Hjalmar’s seemingly happy life is built on a lie, the exposure of which tears both his and Gregers’s families apart at the seams. We can only observe as Hjalmar, his supportive wife Gina (Katherine Tonkin), his aging father Ekdal and his brilliant young daughter Hedvig (Airlie Dodds) alternately lie, love, scar, and lose each other. Heightening the experience is the fact that many of the most explosive events are left to the audience’s imagination. The scenes of the play often lead right up to the reveal, the fight, or the event, leaving the play to focus on the consequence.
Examination of these consequences is enhanced by the fact that the entire play is performed inside a 10- by 20-meter glass box. The cage is barely able to contain the storm of emotion, but makes acute examination of that storm painfully unavoidable. The glass box forces recognition of how small such matters can appear – all able to fit within a modest container. At the same time, it forces recognition of the life-shattering power of the things that take place within this box – the magnitude of a word, a lie, a helping hand.
As the faces, hands, experiences and very psyches of each character are pressed against the pane, a dual-truth emerges from under the microscope. That love endures all things, and that all things must endure love.
When: 3 – 13 March 2016 (Times vary)
Where: Heath Ledger Theatre, State Theatre Centre of Western Australia
Tickets: Premium $79; A reserve Adult $69, Concession $62; B reserve Adult $54, Student $25
Information: Some performances Close Captioned