Fowl play

Ibsen’s The Wild Duck opens on Wednesday at Bard SummerScape

by Lynn Woods
July 10, 2011 11:00 AM | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Henrik Ibsen, 1890. Apic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Henrik Ibsen, 1890. Apic/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.
Many theatergoers are familiar with A Doll’s House and Hedda Gabler; less-known is The Wild Duck, which is rarely performed, despite the fact that it’s considered to be Henrik Ibsen’s crowning masterpiece. So the inclusion of the play in Bard’s SummerScape program this year is a special treat.

The Norwegian playwright is considered to be the father of modern drama, his tense psychological plays calibrating the destructive oppressions of bourgeois life with a bleakness that exploded the myths of the Romantic Age and ushered in the absurdism-laced realism of the 20th century. Written in 1874, when Ibsen’s career was at its peak, the play portrays the tragic consequences that unfold after Gregers Werle, returning home after a long absence, discovers and reveals the deceitful actions of his father Hakon, a successful businessman. The deceit has resulted in the ruin of Hakon’s former business partner, Old Ekdal, and it now threatens to undo the life of his son Hjalmar, who runs a photography business with his wife.

The Wild Duck was revived six years ago at London’s Donmar Warehouse, using a new translation by British dramatist David Eldridge. Eldridge’s script was hailed by The New York Times as a “lucid, efficient reworking” whose “sense of poisoned high spirits perfumes the air like a noxious laughing gas.” The Bard production utilizes the same adaptation and is directed by Caitriona McLaughlin, who created last season’s Judgment Day.

Another Judgment Day alumnus is Dashiell Evans, who stars as Gregers Werle. Tom Bloom, who has played numerous characters on Law & Order, plays Greger’s father Hakon, while Peter Maloney, known for his roles in Breaking Away and other films, plays Old Ekdal. Sean Donegan plays Ekdal’s deluded son Hjalmar, Mary Bacon plays Hjalmar’s wife Gina and Erin Wilhemi plays their ill-fated daughter Hedvig.

The lighting and set also are noteworthy, with Kaye Voyce doing the costumes (her work ranges from Broadway to the Royal Shakespeare Company; she is another Judgment Day veteran), set design by John McDermott and lighting by Jane Cox, both seasoned professionals of Broadway. Video projections are by Aaron Rhyne and the original music and sound are by Ryan Rumery.

Tickets sell for $45. Performances will be held in Theater Two of the Fisher Center for the Performing Arts on July 13 through 17 and July 20 through 24. Visit to make a reservation.

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