Review: Rosmersholm

By John Nathan, June 6, 2008

Almeida Theatre, London N1

In Ibsen’s bleak play, Rosmersholm — or the house of Rosmer — is a place where, for generations of influential Rosmers, “children do not cry, nor do they laugh when they grow up”.

A year after the death of his wife, the current Rosmer (Paul Hilton) has left the church and rejected the reactionary values imposed upon the locals by his ancestors. He is what his brother-in-law Krall (Malcolm Sinclair) hates most — an atheist and free-thinker. Worse, Krall is prepared to punish Rosmer with newspaper articles implying that Rosmer and his wife’s former companion Rebecca (Helen McCory) are living in sin. The absorbing scenes are loquacious and long, but with not hint of longueur. The past is raked in a quest for truth, whether it is about the death of Rosmer’s long-suffering wife or which political vision provides hope.

McCory’s sensual and manipulative Rebecca and Hilton’s born-again liberal are excellent. But director Anthony Page’s production lacks a sense of the oppressive austerity needed to make sense of the play’s desolate end. (Tel: 020 7359 4404)

Last updated: 5:10pm, June 5 2008