The Lady from the Sea by Henrik Ibsen

bookshelves: spring-2015, play-dramatisation, norway, radio-3, published-1888, under-1000-ratings, fantasy, fradio, seven-seas

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Casnewydd Hydra
Read on May 23, 2015

BBC Description: A translation of Ibsen’s sensuous and erotic play The Lady From The Sea adapted by Frank McGuinness and starring Lia Williams and Hugh Bonneville.

Needing financial security, Ellida Wangel has settled for a life as second wife to a dull, provincial doctor and is stepmother to his two resentful daughters. However, she is still spiritually possessed by the mysterious Stranger, a former sailor-lover, and she is left with a desperate yearning for the sea; the promise and ecstasy of the unknown. When this figure, a blatant representation of unrepressed sexuality, returns to claim her, it forces a crisis in her sterile marriage. This startling arrival stirs her desires and lures her back to the water’s edge where she must confront both the past and a desire for the freedom that could destroy her.

McGuinness poses the question is it better to suffocate on dry land or drown in the freedom of the sea? The radio is an ideal medium to explore this notion with a soundscape that depicts in the mind the vast ocean beyond that is waiting to spirit Ellida away. The surprising ending leaves the listener with a warm sense of hope and well-being.

There I was with my first aid kit, forensic chalk stick, blood spatter chart and both stretcher and ambulance on standby, yet it wasn’t needed. What’s going on? Did Ibsen go soft on us?

‘She looked like something that might have occured to Ibsen in one of his less frivolous moments.’
‘Summer Lightening’ – P G Wodehouse

Ellida Wangel Lia Williams
Stranger Hugh Bonneville

Mermaids in Drøbak, Norway

GR Description: The Lady from the Sea was written in Munich in 1888. The earliest extant draft is dated June 5th 1888, but as usual Ibsen had been thinking about the subject for some time. A number of elements derive from his stay in Molde in the summer of 1885. It is assumed that Ibsen not only used Molde as his model for the little “town by a fjord in the northern part of Norway” where the action takes place; he was also said to have heard two legends there that made an impression on him, and which he used in the play.

3* A Doll’s House
4* Hedda Gabler
3* The Wild Duck
4* Peer Gynt
3* The Master Builder
2* Brand
4* John Gabriel Borkman
3* The Vikings of Helgeland
3* The Lady from the Sea


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