An Enemy of the People
October 11, 2018
Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen’s prominent position on the forefront of the firmament of contemporary drama has never wavered as his artistic struggle against what he perceived to be the pig-headed middle class and political cowardice has found a myriad of incarnations and reinterpretations ever since he put a pen to paper.
An Enemy of the People (1882) was one of Ibsen’s more forward and direct emissions with the protagonists conveying large-type, stereotypical views and emotions that still resonate throughout this day and age – even more amplified through Melissa Reeves new contemporary version at Belvoir Theatre: Greed, politics, righteousness, corruption, complicit press and moral bankruptcy.
Fiery in delivery with well-calibrated and at times subtle comedic nuances, the ensemble lead by director Anne-Louise Sarks portrays the crisis of a small Australian country town; whose dynamics have more than obvious parallels to the macrocosm of worldwide big league political issues.
What Belvoir Theatre’s 2018 version accomplished is an extension of the surgical precision with which Ibsen smacked down the faults of his audience.
Not merely shedding light on the short sightedness of decision making along with the significance and implications of whistleblowing, but by adapting the main protagonist to feature a female lead (the vibrant Kate Mulvany), Reeves’ redux adds another dimension to Ibsen’s play by examining the discreditation and undermining of women in their endeavor to unveil the truth.
Part of the appeal of An Enemy of the People is that it is a play that switches its emphasis with each production.
Belvoir Theatre’s lively staging excels at displaying the dilemmas and intricate fabric of our society by emphasizing and embodying the fundamental and timeless questions that Henrik Ibsen originally raised.
Photos by Brett Boardman