Theatre review - The Wild Duck

ROBERT Icke’s electrifying production of The Wild Duck brings Henrik Ibsen’s 1884 play bang up to date.

In this era of fake news and cyber bullying, the pursuit of truth is particularly topical. However, as Ibsen suggests, an idealistic vision, the belief that your perspective is the right one, can be just as damaging.

James (Edward Hogg) and Gina Ekdal (Lyndsey Marshal) are happily married and run a photography studio. James dreams of devising an amazing invention that will change their fortunes. It’s the life-illusion (life-lie) that sustains him.

They sometimes struggle to make ends meet but are buoyed up by their exuberant, 12-year-old daughter Hedwig (Clara Read) and the benevolence of their neighbour, Charles Woods (Nicholas Day).

The family is torn apart after the revelations of Gregory Woods (Kevin Harvey), James’ childhood friend and Charles’ son. He is a troubled man, morally righteous and obsessed with truth-telling.

Gregory returns home after 15 years absence, and feels beholden to tell James about his father’s various transgressions against their family. It is Charles’s guilt that has motivated his financial support of them.

When Gregory threatens to leave, Hedwig decides to sacrifice the thing most precious to her in the belief that it will save her parents’ marriage.

The characters speak their innermost thoughts, revealing their true selves, through a hand-held microphone. The seen and unseen, love, betrayal, truth and lies (and a real-life duck) all come under the microscope in this compelling, poignant production, beautifully staged and acted.

Almeida Theatre
Running until 1 December
Originally published by Camden Review