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The Umbrella Organisation

The Umbrella Organisation

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Emperor and Galilean
captivebird wrote in mycroft_brolly
I'm trying to decide whether to book tickets to see this new production at the Olivier Theatre in June/July. I know that it stars Moriarty Andrew Scott, which is exciting. But I don't think I know any of the remainder of the cast, and I'm not sure about the play itself.

I saw my first Ibsen at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, last November. It was of course John Gabriel Borkman, one of Henrik Ibsen's later plays, with the superb triumvirate leading cast of Fiona Shaw, Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman. It was very easy to enjoy, being a powerfully emotive yet intimate piece, and my friend and I were lucky enough (or obsessive enough!) to see the play evolve over three consecutive evening performances, as the director was making alterations prior to take the production to BAM in the New Year.

Emperor and Galilean, written some twenty years earlier, is an epic with a massive cast, and is Ibsen's longest play. Ibsen allegedly regarded it as the cornerstone of his work, yet it is one of his lesser known and least performed pieces. I don't think it has ever been performed in English before.

I'm not sure why I'm hesitating. Is it the subject matter? It is historically interesting – the Emperor Julian tries to roll back the times and return to the old, pre-Christian gods. Obviously this only helped to entrench opinion and establish Christianity. Is it the length of the play? I'm not sure of it's total running time, but I fear getting fidgety. On the other hand, the promise of 'a cathedral of sound and ritual' is very enticing.

So far, there are still plenty of tickets available, but I seem unable to commit. Help me out here somebody please! Persuade and prod me in the right direction... :-)

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Oh, I think you definitely should. I confess that I always think of Ibsen as a very contained playwright. Lots of interiors, small casts, and intimate exchanges (not of the sexual variety; I just mean it's very interpersonal as opposed to grand and sweeping). I think it would be very interesting to see something so opposite to what I associate with him.

And can I just take a moment to ruminate on Fiona Shaw and Alan Rickman! That must have been tremendous! I would love to see Alan Rickman on stage.

So, in short: go!

Yes, I'm coming around to thinking that the contrast from intimate to epic would be interesting, even from the perspective of my extremely limited experience of Ibsen so far. :-)

As for John Gabriel Borkman, it was an absolute treat. This was the production that got me going to theatre again – to grab the rare chance to see Alan Rickman live on stage. That he was co-starring with Fiona Shaw and Lindsay Duncan was an amazing bonus. To observe such powerful, three-way interplay up close was fantastic. I feel very lucky to have seen it. It helps to mitigate my annoyance in retrospect at having seen neither Design for Living nor After the Dance last year. :-))

Oh I think you should definitely go.

I haven't a clue what the play will be like and I've booked just because Andrew is in it. I want to see as much of his stage work as I possibly can, he was wonderful in Design For Living at the Old Vic last year.

As far as I can recall the only Ibsen I've seen is Brand (someone please correct me if that isn't Ibsen). Had Ralph Fiennes in it and it was spectacular.

Also commenting about Alan Rickman - saw him several years ago in Private Lives. He was amazing.

So going back to the original subject.........definitely go.

You saw AR in Private Lives? That I do envy – although not as much as those who saw him in Les Liasons Dangereuses. ;-) I missed out on Design for Living, so I guess I'm gradually talking myself around to not missing this next chance to see Andrew Scott...

P.S. The playscript of Emperor and Gallilean which I've just ordered from Amazon also includes Brand, so I shall read it imagining Ralph Fiennes as that tormented priest. :-)

I need to get some sleep but I am going twice - on Wednesday 15 June (press night) and Saturday 30 July.

I will give a fuller answer re why you should go tomorrow - but one thing I will say now - It has a cast of 50 people!

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