tirsdag den 8. april 2008

The power of Martha

I will tell you of a performance of Edward Albee’s ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ I saw last night at Gasværket.
‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’ is one of my favourite plays and I saw it a few years back for the first time staring the Danish comedian actress Søs Egelind as Martha. She is most famous for her funny performances in comedy shows, but in that production she proved that she really has an incredible talent for serious acting. In my eyes Egelind’s performance was very overlooked in the world of Danish theatre – she really deserved an award for it, but I think many critics still only see her as a comedian. It is safe to say – without exaggerating – that she gave me one of my greatest theatre-experiences ever. And I’ve been a theatre-goer since I basically could walk. In general that production made such an impression on me that I already had my doubts about going to see a new and different one last night. One’s first great experience of a play is rarely exceeded and I guess that makes me a though critic for this production.
But Albee’s play is such a classic and it will and should be staged again and again – and it deserves to constantly be challenged by new actors and directors. Last nights production has already received a lot of critical praise which ultimately helped to persuade me to go.

And I did enjoy it and I enjoyed the fact that it was very different from the first one I saw. But it still didn’t surpass my first experience at all. In this production Martha was played by the great Danish diva Paprika Steen. She defiantly has the temper and desperation which such a part needs and I think she was the absolute best thing about the whole production. Martha’s inner strengths and weaknesses are vital in the play, but what fascinates me the most is the ‘war’ between Martha and George. Unfortunately, I think that the George here played by Lars Brygmann was too weak to match Paprika’s Martha. All his rage and physic game playing seemed too random and lacked a deep ongoing plotting hatred that I think George has towards Martha.
At Gasværket Martha is sexy and George is the old intellectual – but I failed to really believe their mutual attraction. This amazingly complicated relationship seems only to break out into open war because of the two guests – Honey and Nick – but as I understand it, Martha and George have been at war most of their marriage. In the production at Gasværket it seems as if this war starts and ends that night and thus reducing Honey and Nick to odd comic relief gadgets through out the play.

The stage design was amazing, done by Gasværket's manager Jon Stephensen. With a rotating stage construction and a house with moving walls, George and Martha’s home seems like combination of Pandora’s Box and a fish tank.

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