Peer Gynt

Theatre, Circuses
2 out of 5 stars
Peer Gynt
© Ici et maintenant

Scandinavia is a cold land. Its climate is wintry, its self-image harsh – you need only read Hans Christian Andersen's tales or watch Ingmar Bergman's films to get a sense of the savage scrutiny and pitiless suffering to which its greatest artists routinely subject their characters. The Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen is no exception, and his masterpiece 'Peer Gynt' stands as a model of poetically crafted cynicism.

The dramatic gambit of this production is to stage the play as a piece of circus performance. While admirably bold, this approach blunts the spike of social critique that runs through Ibsen's text; director Christine Berg stifles the satire, leaving breathing space only for the slapstick. What's more, the unchanging set precludes any scenographic shifts in step with Peer Gynt's travels through myriad lands both real and imaginary, resulting in a disappointingly static rendering of such a sweeping tale. The cast does its best within these confines, but ultimately the play stumbles and sputters where it should have soared.


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