Henrik Ibsen's An Enemy Of The People in a new version by Jolley Gosnold
What is it?
An adaptation of the Ibsen play of the same name, this updated version is set in a West London Borough in the shadow of Grenfell Tower.
What's it all about?
Somewhere in London a group of friends celebrate a birthday. The birthday boy is Gabriel (Gabriel Akuwudike), who is in high spirits as he feels that he has everything at his feet. A supportive girlfriend (Hannah Van Der Westhuysen), a flat of his own, a job that pays him well. He is happy. Even his half brother and employer Olivier (Olivier Huband) can't bring him down.
But all is not as it seems, and when Gabriel discovers that the local swimming baths are infected with poisonous bacteria, he takes the issue to his brother, the media and the local community, with every intention of protecting them. But politics are never fair or pretty, and soon Gabriel finds himself as a target, a scapegoat for the negative attitudes of those in positions of power and finds the world he thought he knew so well, is actually a very different place.
How did it make me feel?
This show is a great adaptation, and its similarities to the tragic events of Grenfell are subtle and clever. The classic Ibsen style though, remains intact. This show is heavy on dialogue and at times, quite exhausting to watch as the characters more often than not, repeat themselves over and over.
The cast are strong, and the acting is natural and brilliant. Max Keeble and Hannah Van Der Westhuysen and Olivier Huband are particularly strong, and create a strong ensemble to Akuwudike's Gabriel.
The set is simple and well designed, with a white tiled wall with revolving panels, that are used to provide the space with a clean and concise way of changing location easily.
The piece does feel sluggish toward the middle and again toward the end and could easily be cut down to a 90 minute piece. The ending, hints at feminist message, which is immediately taken back with a strange choice that undercuts the idea, and leaves the audience confused and unsatisfied.
Where Is It Playing?
The Playground Theatre, Latimer Road is a lovely large space that is a perfect fit for a production that focuses on issues that are so relevant to the local area.
An Enemy Of The People has all the right ingredients for a brilliant show, but loses itself a few times and feels confused about what kind of show it is trying to be.
An Enemy Of The People is playing at the Playground Theatre until the 23rd July 2019.
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