THEATRE REVIEW: Little Eyolf

WORTH A LOOK: ***

WHERE: Almeida Theatre

WHEN: 22/12, runs to 9/1/16

Henrik Ibsen’s Little Eyolf is exactly the sort of play one wouldn’t expect to be on at Christmas. But that’s no reason to dismiss this defiantly downbeat tale produced brilliantly here.

We enjoyed Lydia Leonard as Virginia Woolf in BBC2’s Life In Squares earlier this year and she’s mesmerising here as Rita, wife of Alfred (the equally fine Jolyon Coy) who is determined not to let their floundering marriage fall apart.

Things are complicated as their (lack of) aspirations for their son, the titular Little Eyolf, threaten their relationship further. Familial tensions are heightened by the presence of Alfred’s sister Asta (Eve Ponsonby, completing a superb trio of central performances).

Ibsen’s musings on marriage and the pressures that family can bring to bear on it are certainly dark and melancholy but the storytelling is strong enough to hold the attention.

We’ve occasionally been critical of the lack of sets at the Almeida but Little Eyolf is realised beautifully here; the use of white working smartly with the ever present blue of the sea.

The subject matter may not be for everyone, particularly at Christmas, but Little Eyolf is certainly a triumph of counter-programming for those not quite so bound up in the festive season.

  • Picture: Hugo Glendinning via Facebook courtesy Almeida Theatre. Tickets here.
  • Enjoyed this review? Follow its author on Twitter @NeilDurham

 

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