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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 30, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 40
ArtsWest presents a gripping and captivating version of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts
Arts & Entertainment
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ArtsWest presents a gripping and captivating version of Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts

by Paul Torres - SGN A&E Writer

GHOSTS
ARTSWEST
Through October 16


Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts is a famous and once scandalous play. ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery presents a captivating version with a modern adaption penned by Richard Eyre (a legendary English theatre writer and director). Ghosts was first presented in 1892, yet the tale of how past transgressions cast a devastating pall on future generations is as haunting as ever.

In the story Helene Alving is a widow who suffered a horrible marriage with a husband who neglected and cheated on her with other women. She keeps his infidelities and indiscretions a secret from her son and her pastor. Her wish is to open an orphanage to bleed his money dry and to prevent her son from inheriting the family fortune, thus not passing on the sins of his father. However, the seeds of sins have already been planted and the consequences spill out onto the stage in tense dramatic fashion.

As Helene, Suzanna Bouchard gives a stellar portrayal as a woman who has a new lease on life in a time when women could not show strength and pride. She's beyond fear and rage and wants to expunge the past and get on with her life. Bouchard's performance sets a high benchmark for the theater season.

John Coons plays son Oswald Alving. Coons is absolutely enthralling on the stage. The young and ailing Oswald is fresh from a soul-enlivening trip to Paris. He's falling in love with his mother's maid, Regina (Sophia Franzella), who is also a victim of his father's misdeeds - she's his half-sister.

Franzella is compelling as the meek maid who finds herself a part of the family mess. Noah Racey is exceptional in his role as the self-righteous and smug Pastor Manders. Paul Shapiro gives a ruggedly sharp performance as Jacob Engstrand, Regina's 'father.' They all meticulously play intricate parts in the dark twisted web spun by the late Captain Alving.

In the hands of a consummate professional like Mathew Wright as director, Ghosts is gripping as its seedy revelations unfold - an oddly quaint, but essential viewing for the autumn. Wright guides the perfectly matched cast through the moral intricacies of Ibsen's themes.

Kudos must be given to scenic designer Shawn Ketchum Johnson who has the talent to put us right into the mid-1800s. Lighting Director Alyssa Milione's work here is brilliant. The light shifts, dims, and brightens with the character's journeys and leaves an indelible impression.

The time-honored literary weight of Ghosts works in this contemporary and tidy version because it conveys messages about courage, shrewdness, and morality that still resonate today.



For more information, visit http://www.artswest.org/ or phone the box office at (206) 938-0339.

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