A new version by Rebecca Lenkiewicz. From a literal translation by Charlotte Barlund
Power. Money. Morality. In a tight knit community, a shocking discovery comes to light and threatens the lifeblood of the town. Truth and honour are pitched against wild ambition and corruption in Ibsen’s emotional maelstrom. An Enemy of the People, adapted by Rebecca Lenkiewicz.
|Dr Thomas Stockman||Robert Massey|
|Catherine Stockman||Cyrena Hayes|
|Peter Stockman||Dave O’Sullivan|
|Morten Kiil||Karl O’Leary|
|Woman 1||Marie Houlihan / Lurlene Duggan|
|Woman 2||Lucy Byrne|
|Man 1||Jimmy Grace|
|Man 2 / Edvard Vik||Neil McFadden|
|Set Design||TJ Duggan|
|Stage Manager||Siobhan Keogh|
|Backstage Crew||Roisin Gorman|
|Crew / Set Construction||Brian Moran|
About The Group
Prosperous is a small village in Co. Kildare with a strong tradition of theatre and the group are thrilled to have won the RTÉ All Ireland Drama Finals in 2018. The group first won the 1 Act Open All Ireland finals in 1995 and re-joined the circuit in 2009. Prosperous won the 1 Act All Ireland finals in 2012 and were invited to perform their winning production in Monaco at the Mondial du Théâtre. The group are consistent qualifiers for the 3 act All Ireland finals in Athlone. They held the title of Ulster Champions in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, the group decided to take a break from the circuit and then placed 3rd in the All Ireland Finals in 2016. The group were awarded the Abbey Theatre award in the 2017 RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival finals, bringing ‘The Play about the Baby’ to the Peacock Stage for 4 sold out performances.
Their production of ‘Sylvia’ won numerous awards at the 2018 RTÉ All Ireland Drama Festival, including the Abbey Theatre Award, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Stage Setting, Best Director and the overall prize of Best Play.
Summary of Adjudicator’s Comments
In her introduction, Festival Adjudicator Imelda McDonagh remarked that this play had moved people to action in the past. When performed in what was then known as Petrograd in Russia, the audience stormed the stage in support of the character of Dr Thomas Stockman. The play also became associated with the ‘Dreyfus affair’ in France and protest movements in Barcelona and Tokyo.
The play was “deeply controversial” at the time it was written by Henrik Ibsen and some theatres refused to show it. The original was set in Norway in the 1880s, and Rebecca Lenkiewicz wrote a new adaption in 2008, with this production based on that version. The Lenkiewicz adaption made no attempt to hide the anti-democratic tendencies of Dr Stockman, Ms McDonagh noted.
The adjudicator said this is a demanding play to present, requiring creativity in setting and heartfelt performances to fully explore the treatment of the whistle-blower in this Cain-and-Abel style power struggle between two brothers.
She described the set design as “so appropriate to the modern version” of the play, and it was “streamlined and functional”. The stark grid divider provided a strong visual divide onstage. There were “lovely touches” in the props and, in general, the stage manager (Siobhan Keogh) was hailed for choreographing scene changes with “precision and grace”.
The costumes were described as “very well chosen” in choice of fabric and “the sense of social class was well differentiated”. Lighting was “clean and assured” with the “bold strong colours” commended. The sound effects always suggested “a sense of urgency” and they were suitably “tribal and ominous”.
Director TJ Duggan was praised for “a polished, fluid and stylish presentation”. Whilst the play deals with a serious subject matter, it was delivered with “a lightness of touch” and there was “subtle underplay”. The different spaces on the stage were always used well to tell the story.
The relationships between the characters are particularly important in this play – the fallout over the discovery of unsafe conditions in the town’s spa baths extends far and wide – and this production captured the human devastation to great effect. The pace and rhythm were “particularly engaging” and the “different moods were well captured”.
Planting cast members among the audience in Act 4 brought a “sense of inclusiveness” and generated a dynamic energy. Moments of comedy “emerged naturally” as the moral corruption in the town was cruelly exposed.
Turning to the acting, Dr Thomas Stockman (Robert Massey) appeared initially as a very contented family and medical man, an important contrast to his “descent into chaos” later on (particularly when he lashed out at the newspaper printers). He was always “emotionally engaged” and his speech to the audience in Act 3 was “particularly strong”. The actor used quiet moments well in portraying this “passionate, driven and idealistic” character.
Peter Stockman (Dave O’Sullivan) was “ponderous and gruff” and disapproving of the ordinary pleasures of life. He relished “manipulating” people when needed and he delivered a “chilling rejection” of his brother at the end.
Catherine Stockman (Cyrena Hayes) was the “gracious hostess” and “fiercely protective” of her husband and she showed a “quiet dignity”. Petra (Ashleigh O’Neill) was “fiery and independent” and a “real Ibsen heroine”. Morten Kiil (Karl O’Leary) had “great energy” on stage and a “wicked sense of mischief” but he also showed a “ruthless streak” towards the end.
Hovstad (James Murphy) appeared a total idealist at the start but he showed a “more sinister side” to Petra, and his self-interest came to the fore in business matters. Billing (Karl Keogh) was a “yes man” in his dealings with Hovstad who he turned into a “rabble rouser” when the local newspaper turned against Dr Stockman.
Aslaksen (Gerard O’Shea) was a “mannered” and precise figure who delivered quirky comic playing which supported the characterisation. He revealed himself to be “self-serving” and “obsequious” towards the authorities. Horster (Connie Broderick), the sea captain, was “stoic and loyal” to the beleaguered Dr Stockman.
The Townspeople proved a “loud and unruly” bunch and a force to be reckoned with, particularly ‘the drunk’ (Malcolm Taylor) who found another door to re-enter when ejected from the public gathering!
In summary, the adjudicator said this was an “imaginative and inventive” interpretation of a classic work from Ibsen. It “laid bare the treachery of human nature” and the “brave souls who battle against it”.