Henrik Ibsen’s canon of work spans a wide variety of themes and ideas. One of his most prevalent themes focuses on social and political change. Considered to be a masterpiece by some, Rosmersholm follows the story of widower John Rosmer as he supports the communities new ideas and his friend and occupant Rebecca West, who sets out to undermine his intentions.
Adapted by Katherine C. McDonald, Ibsen’s story is in full bloom with a fresh voice. McDonald’s version keeps Ibsen’s story within the 19th and 20th century but brings modernity to the front. With that being said, the ensemble lived in different stylistic worlds. McDonald’s script verged between modern and heightened language allowing for some actors to take on the various styles. Despite the inconsistencies, the ensemble for the most part worked well off one another. Leading the pack was Philip de la Cal as John Rosmer. de la Cal balanced his beliefs and love for Rebecca quite well. His performance was strong and versatile. McDonald, who portrayed Rebecca as well as drafting the new version, lacked chemistry with de la Cal’s Rosmer, partially due to their varying approaches. Her performance had an aura of entitlement and was a bit out of place at times. The standout star of the production was the rarely seen but brightly shinning Jessica Mosher as Ms. Helseth, the maid. Mosher made great use of her role bringing quirkiness to the help. Additionally, Tristan Schaffer-Goldman brought some edge to the drama-starting Mortensgaard.
Rosmersholm may be one of Ibsen’s lesser produced works yet is still one of his stronger stories. Random Access Theatre’s production at the Old Stone House was sublime and was a great fit for the location. The play is certainly a thought-provoking piece for the time.