The Lady from the Sea

“It really was unfortunate that we were married,” asserts Moya O’Connell as Ellida (left) who realizes that freedom of choice is a prerequisite.  Ric Reid as Dr. Wangel (right) tries to come to terms with the solution in the Shaw Festival’s alluring presentation of ‘The Lady From The Sea’ on stage until September 13.

SEAing Is Believing

It’s long been said that the eyes are the window to a person’s soul. Look deep inside and you might just get lost in the endless possibilities.

And in director Meg Roe’s musically heightened opening scene where a wet fleshed Ellida (Moya O’Connell) awakens with a burning desire to return to the place in which she feels she belongs, playgoers can’t help but be swept away by the uncertain psychological tide that’s about to roll in.

A storyline about a conflicted wife with a soft spot for an old flame is by no means the most original tale to tell these days.  However, when you see narrative sculpting that playwright Erin Shields shapes from the original text, it makes you wonder what the modern stage would look like if all Henrik Ibsen plays could be transformed like this.

As Dr. Wangel, Ric Reid anchors the production with the kind of emotional purity that clearly demonstrates why nice guys always finish last. “This man has a strange power of you,’ Wangel declares.  The character’s best intentions for his disintegrating union is never in doubt and it’s anyone’s guess how he can right the wrong unfolding.

Riding the crest of the live performance wave in this deeply moving play is Moya O’Connell. “All I know is that he’s the chaos in my soul and I belong to him,’aches a tormented Ellida.  Words such as these rarely pass the smell test with contemporary audiences yet O’Connell’s emotional dredging makes the character’s situation feel unimaginably real. 

It’s not what happens upon the story’s conclusion that gives The Lady From The Sea its swelling beauty more so than the why.  Floating images in our heads can forever pose a danger to us.  Only those that examine their finest detail avoid being swept away.

Review by Steven Berketo

THE LADY FROM THE SEA by Henrik Ibsen, adapted by Erin Shields April 30 – September 13, 2015 COURT HOUSE THEATRE, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario TICKETS$25.00 – $116.00www.shawfest.com1- 800-511-SHAW CAST Neil Barclay, Kyle Blair, Andrew Bunker, Darcy Gerhart, Moya O’Connell, Ric Reid, Jacqueline Thair, and Mark Uhre DIRECTOR Meg Roe DRAMATURGY Joanna Falck SET & COSTUMES Camellia Koo LIGHTING Kevin Lamotte ORIGINAL MUSIC Alessandro Juliani STAGE MANAGER Andrea Schurman

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