THEATRE REVIEW: The Wild Duck at the Almeida

WORTH A LOOK?: ****1/2

WHERE? Almeida Theatre RUN TIME: 2 hours and 35 minutes (including a 20 minute interval)

WHEN?: 25/10, runs to 17/11/18

Andrew Scott won our Best Theatre Actor monsta last year for his titular role in Robert Icke’s re-imagining of Hamlet which transferred into the West End from the Almeida.

  • Read on for reasons including how Icke consistently brings fresh eyes to classic work and re-imagines it memorably

We’ve reviewed a lot of Icke’s recent work including Mary Stuart, Uncle Vanya, Oresteia and 1984 and this update of Ibsen is certainly as clever, inventive and insightful as those.

Perhaps we’ve seen too many productions at the Almeida but several of the stylistic ideas here appear to be echoes of what we’ve seen previously. These include the use of microphones where characters reveal their true feelings (Summer And Smoke, we think) and where an audience member joins in with the show (The Writer).

Icke reimagines The Wild Duck in the present day and what works best is the skewering of the idea of saying one thing but meaning another. The interjections about Ibsen’s own life story and how they may have influenced the theme of the perils of exposing hidden truths are illuminating.

The Wild Duck is the story of returning son Gregory Woods (Kevin Harvey, convincingly portraying an overwhelming desire to expose the truth whatever the consequences) and the effects his arrival has on former childhood friend James Ekdahl, his wife (Lyndsey Marshal, very good and pictured above) and their daughter.

The titular story at the heart of the tale is about a duck wounded by a hunter which chooses to drown itself at the bottom of the lake rather than prolong its life.

We spy Monica Dolan in the audience who will star in All About Eve next year at the Noel Coward Theatre in the West End with Gillian Anderson and Lily James.

This isn’t as good as Hamlet but is further proof, were it needed, that there are few as consistently excellent as Icke at bringing fresh eyes to classic work and re-imagining it memorably for a modern audience. Watch it take flight and transfer into the West End next year.

  • Picture via Facebook courtesy Almeida Theatre. Tickets
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