Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 5. April 28th, 1948
The Odour of a Bad Egg — Repertory Lays Ibsen's "Ghosts"
The Odour of a Bad Egg
Repertory Lays Ibsen's "Ghosts"
Ibsen's scalding assault on one of the great social problems of all time—the fruits of sin overlaid with the veneer of bourgeois respectability—loses little of its moral punch with the passing of the years.
This play demands a high standard of acting. Like all the world's great dramas, its theme carried on skilful characterisation, which calls for equally skilled interpretation. It is difficult for an amateur Company in this little country—to meet this requirement. But full honours must be given to Harry Painter for his very creditable performance as the hard-drinking blackmailer. Engstrand. Gracie Gordon became progressively more convincing as Mrs. Alving—a most difficult part, and excelled in the climax of the last act. Graham Brown-Douglas made a very good Pharisaical pastor, though as a character part, the acting ability required was less than more dramatic leading roles. Graeme Allwright's part was possibly the most exacting: the youth overcome with the wages or his father's dissipation. It calls for complete sympathy with the character to change in a single scene from a temperamental genius into a drivelling idiot. And in this case the audience showed by their reception that they thought Mr. Allwright's a worthy attempt. Brigid Lenihan had very little acting to do as Regina and what she did lacked something of spirit.
The lighting effects were poor; and did that chap on the switchboard enjoy himself!
The quintessence of the work lies in the absolute haunting of the whole house by its dead master, with his two faces—that of the profligate, diseased roue as he really was, and that of the non-existent pillar of society that his wife showed to the world. On the one hand we have the visible effects of congenital syphilis developing in the son. Oswald, with his unnatural love for the maid, his illegitimate half-sister—on the other hand we have the erection of the orphanage to the old rogue's memory, and the prim ecclesiastic whom convention had hoaxed. Between the two is Mrs. Alving who bore the brunt of her husband's debauchery and whose whole life is devoted to keeping the scandal hushed up and in whitewashing his memory after his death—but is left in the end with her orphanage burnt and her son disintegrating through no fault of his own.
The set and props, exact as in all repertory productions, did manage to bring forth the gloom of the day and the evil contagion that haunted the house—these to a certain extent made up for the eccentricities of the lighting. Immaculate furnishing also emphasised the respectable face of this sordid household.
The strength of this play cannot be hidden by mediocre presentation. Though our outlook is broader than it was sixty years ago, this stuff still stings.
—Hammer and Tongs.