Praiseworthy performances in Peer Gynt
19 November 2015
This year’s Studio Production was an ambitious adaptation of Ibsen’s dark and poetic Nordic epic Peer Gynt, using a cut-down version of the Christopher Fry translation that still managed to retain most of the characters and humour.
Peer Gynt is the son of the once highly regarded Jon Gynt, who became a penniless drunkard, leaving Peer and his mother Åse to live in poverty. Peer wants to restore what his father had wrecked, but is outlawed after kidnapping a bride, Ingrid, on her wedding day. During his flight, he encounters many strange characters and creatures, and the play tells of his ultimate downfall and subsequent redemption.
Bernard Visser (F6) in the title role delivered his finest performance yet at Oakham, whilst Mia Day’s (F7) mature Åse perfectly counterpointed her son’s wild temperament, as did the gentle and compelling Solveig of Clara Hallam (F4). Hatty Cadman (F4) was both an engaging and repulsive Woman in Green; Lucie Gillam (F5) created Solveig’s sister, Helga, and drowned quite nicely as the Cook on the ill-fated ship that brings Peer back home.
The many exotic locations of the play were enhanced through projection which was evocative without being obtrusive, and the lighting and sound were also employed to reveal (or to hide) the multi-role action. Throughout the piece ran extracts from Grieg’s Suites, and it was brilliant to hear the familiar melodies in their intended context.
Beth White (F6) and Magi Talg (F6) produced some well-executed acting as the Steward and Huhu respectively, and Georgia Wootton-Small (F4) played a passionate Anitra. The indignant Ingrid was well portrayed by Jojo Stanton (F5). There was spirited dancing from the Herd Girls and Arabian Houris, and fine collaborative work to realise the Bøyg, the sail home, and perhaps most engaging of all, the trollish tour de force ‘In The Hall of the Mountain King’.
Final words are reserved for the three younger boys – Jack Clark Bishop (F3) who gave us Aslack, Begriffenfeldt and Strange Passenger; Sam Riley (F3) who delivered Groom’s Father, Dovre Master and Button Moulder; and lastly, and still only in Form 1, Zsolti Johnson who delighted as the Groom, Helmsman and as the Ugly Troll Child. Of their performances, Theatre Manager David Norell (who directed the production) said, “They more than held their own in the company of the more experienced actors and we look forward to seeing more of them all in future years – they delivered much and promise much, much more.”
Gilly Norell, Director of Drama, said, “Our actors performed magnificently in what was a challenging and ambitious production. It was a privilege to watch a cast, representing a spectrum of ages across the School, work together so harmoniously to produce this impressive piece of theatre, and I look forward to seeing how our younger actors develop in the years to come.”