Review: En Folkefiende

Squint with Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama
August 29th at Pleasance Dome
3 Stars (3 / 5)

Inspired by one of Henrik Ibsen’s best-known play of the same name, writer Brad Birch retells the tale and sets it in modern-day Norway, but the play does not quite hit the hail on the head. It feels more like a condensed version of the original and does not seem to offer anything new, as the issues and themes are firmly rooted in the past and lack a perceptive exploration of these complexities in the 21st century.

Performed by Squint and Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama’s modern retelling of one of Henrik Ibsen’s best-known plays does not quite hit the nail on the head. The actors are undoubtedly well-trained and great at their job. What lets them down is the weak concept and failure to explore the many issues inherent in their new adaptation and today’s role of science, politics and the media. In addition, the aesthetic seems to serve spectacle rather than aid the storytelling, unless if the production’s intended effect is to distance the audience from the heart of the action.

Royal Welsh College has potential to produce magnificent theatre and En Folkefiende is only a fraction of what they can achieve. However, this might be the fault of Birch’s writing, whose play seems more like a tribute to Ibsen than an extrication of his narrative.