Rosmersholm Image


By Henrik Ibsen
Ticket prices: £6 - £29.5
Thu 15 May 2008 - Sat 5 Jul 2008

When the seductive Rebecca West arrives at Rosmersholm, Johannes Rosmer's beliefs are thrown into turmoil.

A passionate love story. 

Two psycologically fascinating character studies.  A society divided between conservatism and a new democracy.  A portrait of idealism foundering in the modern world of journalistic spin and opportunism.  A story full of frightening twists.

A play believed by many to be Ibsen's dramatic masterpiece, in a new version by Mike Poulton. 

Paul Hilton (Rosmer) is best known for Mourning Becomes Electra at the National Theatre, The Wild Duck at the Donmar Warehouse and In Celebration in the West End.

Award winning Helen McCrory (Rebecca West) theatre work includes Five Gold Rings, Platonov and The Triumph of Love at the Almeida, and Twelfth Night and Uncle Vanya for the Donmar Warehouse. She has most recently played Cherie Blair in Stephen Frears’ multi-award winning film The Queen.

Malcolm Sinclair (Kroll), recently featured in Patrick Marber’s Dealer’s Choice at the Menier Chocolate Factory and is also well known for The History Boys at the National Theatre.

Anthony Page returns to the Almeida Theatre after his success with Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? His West End productions include Albee’s The Lady From Dubuque, Ibsen’s The Master Builder and A Doll’s House, Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof .

Mike Poulton's work includes a new version of Schiller's Don Carlos and Mary Stuart, as well as Ibsen's Ghosts and Hedda Gabler.

Evening performances 7.30 pm

Saturday matinees 3 pm

Wednesday matinees (18 June & 2 July) 2.30 pm

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The Cast of Rosmersholm
Paul Hilton - Johannes Rosmer

Paul Hilton - Johannes Rosmer
Paul has previously performed at the Almeida in The Storm in 1998. His other theatre work includes In Celebration at the Duke of York’s Theatre, On The Third Day at the New Ambassadors Theatre, The Wild Duck for the Donmar Warehouse, The President of an Empty Room, Mourning Becomes Electra and Three Sisters all for the National Theatre, Terrorism and Mountain Language for the Royal Court, The Daughter-in-Law for the Young Vic, and Romeo and Juliet, The Cherry Orchard and Richard III for the RSC.
 His film and television work includes True Dare Kiss, The Belsen Redemption, Dalziel and Pascoe, Heist, Trial and Retribution XIII, The Family Man, Wire in the Blood, Silent Witness and Klimpt.
 His radio credits include Matador, The Old Curiosity Shop, Antony & Cleopatra, The White Guard, As You Like It, and The Mysteries.
Helen McCrory - Rebecca West

Helen McCrory - Rebecca West

Multi-award winning Helen McCrory returns to the Almeida having appeared in Five Gold Rings in 2003, Platonov in 2001, and The Triumph of Love in 1999. Her other extensive theatre credits include Rosalind in As You Like It for Wyndhams Theatre, Old Times, Twelfth Night & Uncle Vanya, In A Little World of Our Own, and How I Learned to Drive all for the Donmar Warehouse, Les Enfants du Paradis for the RSC, The Seagull, Devil’s Disciple, Fuente Ovejuna and Blood Wedding all for the National Theatre, and Lady Macbeth in Macbeth for the Tricycle Theatre.
 Her television work includes Frankenstein, Charles II, Carla, Dead Gorgeous, The Jury, Lucky Jim, North Square, Anna Karenina, Split Second, The Fragile Heart and The Entertainer. Her film credits include Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince, Flashbacks of a Fool, Casanova, Enduring Love, Charlotte Gray, and Cherie Blair in Stephen Frears’ award winning film The Queen.
Paul Moriarty - Ulrik Brendel

Paul Moriarty - Ulrik Brendel

Paul Moriarty was last at the Almeida in Jonathan Kent’s productions of Richard II and Coriolanus (2000).  His other theatre credits include Market Boy, Pillars of the Community, Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads, Macbeth, As I Lay Dying, The Crucible, Racing Demon, Murmuring Judges and The Absence of War all for the National Theatre, Afterbirth for the Arcola Theatre, Kingfisher Blue for the Bush Theatre, King Lear, Antony and Cleopatra, Troilus and Cressida and Bingo all for the RSC, The Elephant Man for Sheffield Lyceum and on tour, A View From The Bridge for Sheffield Crucible, Saved for the Abbey Theatre Dublin, and Love and Money for Manchester Royal Exchange and the Young Vic.
 His film and television credits include Eastenders, Pride and Prejudice, Jack of Hearts, Peak Practice, A Touch of Frost, Murder Most Horrid, and Hidden Agenda.
Veronica Quilligan - Mrs Helseth

Veronica Quilligan - Mrs Helseth

Veronica Quilligan’s extensive theatre credits include A Pagan Place, The Key Tag, From Cockney to Toffs and The School Leaver all for the Royal Court, The Shagaround for Brighton Theatre, Spring Awakening, The Way of the World, The Tempest and Romeo and Juliet all for the National Theatre, Zigomania for the Bush Theatre, A Lesson in Blood and Roses for the RSC, The Glass Menagerie, Wild Oates,Translations and Says I Says He all for Bristol Old Vic, and Gigi at the Fortune Theatre, West End.
 Her television credits include Casualty, Family Affairs, Doctors, Centrepoint, Rough Justice and Peak Practice. Her film credits include My Zinc Bed, Call At Corazon, The Seaweed Children, Robin and Marian and Listzomania, while her work in radio includes The Street Sings, Winners, and Uprooted.
Malcolm Sinclair - Doctor Kroll

Malcolm Sinclair - Doctor Kroll
Malcolm Sinclair returns to the Almeida having appeared previously in Heartbreak House (1997) and Cressida (Almeida in the West End, 2000). His other theatre credits include Dealer’s Choice for Trafalgar Studios, The History Boys for the National Theatre on tour and on Broadway, Luther, Racing Demon, Misanthrope, Richard III and House/Garden also for the National Theatre, What The Butler Saw for Hampstead Theatre and in the West End, Journey’s End at the Playhouse Theatre West End, My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, Privates on Parade for the Donmar Warehouse, Twelfth Night for Sheffield Theatres, and Richard III, Uncle Vanya, The Comedy of Errors and Hamlet for the RSC.
 On television his credits include The Brief, Making Waves, Daphne, Foyle’s War, Hustle, Judge John Deed, Victoria and Albert, Anna Karenina and Pie in the Sky. He has recorded regularly for BBC radio, and his film credits include Casino Royale, V for Vendetta, The Statement and God on the Rocks
Peter Sullivan - Peder Mortensgaard

Peter Sullivan - Peder Mortensgaard
Peter Sullivan has performed previously at the Almeida in Lulu (1991) and Certain Young Men (1999). His other theatre work includes The Pain and The Itch and Rock ‘n’ Roll for the Royal Court, Mercy for Soho Theatre, Napoli Milionaria, Richard III and King Lear all for the National Theatre, Way of the World for the Lyric Hammersmith, Drummers for the New Ambassadors Theatre, and The Bacchae for Opera Factory.
 His television credits include The Passion,Wire in the Blood, A Very Social Secretary, Extras, The Brief, The Last Detective, Single, Nathan Barley, Sex Traffic and State of Play
 His film credits include Chromophobia, Puritan, Monsieur N, Conspiracy, The Day of the Jackal, The Adventures of Young Indiana Jones and Christie Malry's Own Double Entry.
Rosmersholm - Creative Team

Mike Poulton - Adaptation 

Mike Poulton began writing for the theatre in 1995. His first two productions - Uncle Vanya and Fortune’s Fool - were staged by the Chichester Festival Theatre in 1996 and subsequently Broadway. Since then his work has included The Canterbury Tales and St Erkenwald for the Royal Shakespeare Company, a new version of Strindberg’s The Father for Chichester’s Minerva Theatre, a new adaptation of Hedda Gabler for West Yorkshire Playhouse, Three Sisters for Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Don Carlos for the Crucible, Sheffield and in the West End.  In 2001 his adaptation of the York Mystery Plays was performed in York Minster.  He is currently under commission by the RSC, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Chichester Festival Theatre.

Anthony Page - Director

Anthony Page was Artistic Director of the Royal Court between 1964 and 1973 where he directed the premieres of five John Osborne plays.  For the Almeida he directed Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who is Sylvia? in 2004 which later transferred to the West End.  His other West End productions include Ibsen's The Master Builder and A Doll's House, Tennessee Williams’ The Night of the Iguana and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and Edward Albee’s The Lady from Dubuque, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Three Tall Women and A Delicate Balance. For the National Theatre he has directed The Rules of the Game, Mrs Warren's Profession, Absolute Hell and Marriage Play/Finding the Sun. 
He has directed many productions for both British and American television, most recently Middlemarch for the BBC. His films include Inadmissible Evidence, Alpha Beta and Absolution. 

Hildegard Bechtler - Designer

Hildegard Bechtler has previously worked with the Almeida on The Goat, Or Who is Sylvia?, The Saxon Shore, The Creditors, Mainly After Dark, and The Tourist Guide, and for Almeida Opera Jacob Lenz, The Undivine Comedy and The Golom. She has designed extensively for a range of other theatre and opera productions, including Harper Regan, The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, The Hothouse, Therese Raquin and Iphegenia at Aulis all for the National Theatre, All About My Mother for the Young Vic, The Seagull and Krapp's Last Tape for the Royal Court, My Name is Rachel Corrie for the Royal Court, West End and Broadway, Primo for the National Theatre, on Broadway, and the film version for HBO, The Lady from Dubuque for Theatre Royal Haymarket, and Madame Butterfly for Opera North.


Peter Mumford - Lighting

Peter Mumford has previously worked with the Almeida on Cloud Nine, Hedda Gabler and The Goat or Who is Sylvia?. His other extensive theatre work includes Shadowlands for Wyndhams Theatre, Hothouse, The Rose Tattoo, Exiles, The Talking Cure, Luther and Summerfolk for the National Theatre, Fiddler on the Roof for the Savoy Theatre, Amy’s View for the Garrick Theatre, A Voyage Round My Father for the Donmar Warehouse/West End, The Seagull, Drunk Enough to Say I Love You? and Dying City for the Royal Court, The Entertainer and Richard II for the Old Vic, Summer And Smoke, Waiting for Godot, and You Never Can Tell in the West End, and Brand and Hamlet for the RSC. 
His opera work includes Madama Butterfly for English National Opera and The Metropolitan Opera House, New York, Eugene Onegin for the Royal Opera House and Finnish Opera, The Midsummer Marriage for Lyric Opera Chicago, La Cenerentola at Glyndebourne, Katya Kabanova and Madama Butterfly for Opera North, as well as extensive international productions across Europe and America.

Amy Roberts - Costume 

Amy Roberts has designed extensively for theatre, television and film, including Oliver Twist, Confessions of a Diary Secretary, Dracula, Perfect Parents, Elizabeth I: Virgin Queen (BAFTA Craft Award 2007 Best Costume Design), The Only Boy For Me, Family Business, Too Good To Be True, Carrie’s War (BAFTA Wales Award for Best Costume Design), Pollyanna, Helen West, Station Jim, Plain Jane, Amongst Women, A Likeness in Stone, Real Women, Brassed Off, Ultraviolet, The Heart Surgeon, Cold Comfort Farm, Summer Day’s Dream, Close My Eyes, Foreign Affairs, A Question of Attribution, Traffik, Madame Sousatzka, The Tale of Beatrix Potter and An Englishman Abroad (both winners of the BAFTA Award for Best Costume Design).

Gareth Fry - Sound

Gareth Fry’s work as a sound designer includes Black Watch for National Theatre of Scotland, The Overwhelming for Laura Pels Theatre, New York, Jump and OK Computer for BBC Radio 4; Noise of Time, Strange Poetry and Mnemonic for Theatre de Complicite; Women of Troy,A Matter Of Life and Death, Attempts on Her Life, Waves,The Overwhelming, Theatre of Blood, Fix Up, Iphigenia at Aulis, The Three Sisters, Ivanov,and The Oresteia all for the National Theatre; Harvest, Forty Winks, Under the Whaleback, Night Songs, Face to the Wall, Redundant, Mountain Language, Ashes to Ashes, and The Country all for the Royal Court; How Much is Your Iron? and The Jewish Wife for the Young Vic; O Go My Man, Talking to Terrorists and Macbeth for Out of Joint; Romans in Britain and Shadowmouth for Sheffield Crucible; Phaedra's Love for Bristol Old Vic and the Barbican; and World Music and The Dark for the Donmar Warehouse.



**** (4 stars) 'They keep us spellbound'

Michael Billington, The Guardian, 23 May 2008

Read full review

**** (4 stars)' ...a remarkable Helen McCrory pulls out the emotional stops'

Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard, 23 May 2008

Read full review 

'Fascinatingly watchable...'

Robert Gore-Langton, Daily Mail, 23 May 2008

**** (4 stars) 'a scintillating revival...Helen McCrory is superb'

Neil Norman, Daily Express, 24 May 2008

**** (4 stars) 'Helen McCrory and Paul Hilton generate a quiet, unpretentious intensity...'

Benedict Nightingale, The Times, 26 May 2008

Read full review

***** (5 stars) 'Helen McCrory's Rebecca is energetic, frank, sexy and rational'

Caroline McGinn, Time Out, 27 May 2008

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**** (4 stars) 'Anthony Page's Almeida production is lucid and compelling...[a] brilliant central performance by Helen McCrory'

Paul Taylor, Independent, 28 May 2008

Read full review

**** (4 stars) 'Anthony Page's seductive production triumphs'

Robert Shore, Metro, 28 May 2008

**** (4 stars) 'a magnificent production...the acting, fiercely restrained but scorching with truthfulness, has a great liberating power'

John Peter, Sunday Times, 1 June 2008

Read full review 

'Paul Hilton and Helen McCrory illuminate with a fierce intensity...stellar support from Malcolm Sinclair...'

Sunday Express, 1 June 2008

**** (4 stars) 'Mike Poulton's sharp new translation and Anthony Page's fluent production give it a palpable urgency'

Sarah Hemming, Financial Times, 2 June 2008

Read full review

Theatre Pick - Rosmersholm

'This is a great production of one of Ibsen's greatest, though less commonly staged, plays. Anthony Page directs a masterclass in acting by Helen McCrory, Paul Hilton and Malcolm Sinclair. Book while you can.'

John Peter, Sunday Times, 8 June 2008


Helen McCrory interviewed by Barbara Walsh for Coutts Woman

Read interview at Coutts Woman online


Audience comments on Rosmersholm: 
“An excellent production. A fine cast and an outstanding performance by Malcolm Sinclair. Special praise to the back stage crew for the scene changes.” 

“Another top quality production, amazing emotional impact particularly Helen McCrory’s performance – a really dramatic outpouring of genuine authenticity and power."

"A fantastic play, brilliantly performed. I usually give 3/10, but I would award 10/10 for this! I hope you go on tour with it."

"I thought it was superbly acted and was a very interesting piece with a lot of very modern themes."

“An excellent evening as always...Will recommend it to friends.”  

“Excellent acting & production. Good set...I love the Almeida and most of its productions. Well done.”

"Another wonderful night at this wonderful space; a superlative naturalistic production of this Ibsen dark late play, with fantastic performances from Helen McCrory, Paul Hilton and Malcolm Sinclair."

“Thank you for the opportunity to see the play last night.  [We] enjoyed the production very much – including the set decoration.  The play seemed to have resonances with the modern day..."

“Another excellent evening! ...another impeccable Almeida production. Acting, staging, costuming and lighting all first class."

"Quite excellent. Superb acting, plenty of dramatic tension and sinister forces unfolding."

"An excellent production. A fine cast and an outstanding performance by Malcolm Sinclair. Special praise to the back stage crew for the scene changes."

"The entire cast were terrific and it was one of the best experiences at the Almeida - but then we always say that after each visit."

"Wonderful production/staging - just like a painting (intentional I presume). Excellent acting, particularly Dr Kroll and Rebecca - couldn't get over the trembling in the last act - how do you act that? An amazing bargain for the senior citizen!!"

"A fine production. Loved the set. I haven't been to the Almeida for a long time and I love it now. The tickets are a great bargain."  

"Fabulous, what a treat!" 

Rosmersholm Podcast

Actors Helen McCrory and Paul Hilton, talk about Rosmersholm. The actors speak about what excites them about the play, the plot and the characters they play Rebecca West and Rosmer.

To listen to the actors talk online now just click on the links below:

The Play

The actors speak about the Ibsen's thriller. 

Hear Helen McCrory

Hear Paul Hilton

The Politics

What was it like living in 19th Century Norway?

Hear Helen McCrory

The Characters

The actors speak about their characters

Hear Paul Hilton talk

Here Helen McCrory talk

Click here to download the Podcast transcript 


Our production of Rosmersholm had two Assistant Directors working alongside the Director on the show: Paul Higgins during weeks 1 to 3 and Walter Sutcliffe from week 4 onwards.

Here they tell us about the progress of rehearsals from week to week:

Week 1
The first day of the first week begins with what is referred to as a 'meet and greet' – where the administrative, production and creative staff of the Almeida Theatre meet the actors, writer, director and designers of the production team, followed by a showing of the miniature scale model of the stage set, led by the designer Hildegard Bechtler and director Anthony Page. The designer and director go through the set design of each scene or act of the play, talking about the look and feel of the production and what inspirations have been used.
For the next couple of days, the director, cast and adaptor Mike Poulton re-read the play – discussing and analysing the story, the play’s themes, the use of language, and any historical, social or political background of the 1880s in Norway which may be of use. Led by director Anthony Page we get into the world of Ibsen. This ‘round-the-table’ exercise proves very useful because the actors don’t have to worry about props or where and when to move, they can just concentrate on their characters wants, needs and intentions and the characters’ relationships to each other.
On Thursday of the first week, after the first production meeting, it’s time for the actors to get on their feet and start to move. The stage management team have set up Act One, having marked out the floor using tape to indicate where the set doors, windows and walls will be; and providing rehearsal furniture and props (substitutes that are close in size and period to what will actually be used in the theatre).
Week 2
We continue working through the play, act by act, plotting moves with the actors; character relationships are now explored physically in the playing space.
This week the costume designer visits the rehearsal room and spends time with each member of the cast individually.
At the end of each rehearsal day, the deputy stage manager has made notes on anything that has cropped up in rehearsals. For instance during the rehearsing of a scene we discovered the character of Mrs Helseth will need polish and a cloth to polish furniture in the room, and that one of the tables will need a drawer for the actors to use. It is only through rehearsing the scenes and the beats of the scenes that these finer details are realised. The rehearsal notes of the day are then issued to the various departments so that additional props can be found or furniture changed.
A second production meeting takes place at the end of the week covering all aspects of the production, from the choosing of furniture to discussions about wigs to which way the doors need to be hung – does the door open inwards or outwards into the room? Will the oil lamps be real or operated with a battery? Portraits are seen on the walls of the set. Anthony and Hildegard decide on the look of the portraits from examples. Two of the characters crochet in the play, so we need to teach one of the actors how to do this. Every aspect of the production is thought through carefully, often with a great deal of research. 
Week 3
The actors are now mostly ‘off-book’ – working from memory rather than scripts in hand – which can be a frustrating time for actors as the scenes will often be slower. However by working in smaller sections, often going over a scene or a beat of a scene many, many times, the text is soon solidly in the actor’s memory.
Having gone through the play once, we go back to the beginning and work in much closer detail, really pulling things apart, beat by beat, discovering new things and exploring in greater depth what was found in the previous weeks. Some choices that were made in the previous week develop into different choices and the plotting of a scene can take on a new life if a different ‘key’ into the scene is discovered. It’s an exciting part of the rehearsal process as Anthony begins to shape the play almost as though it were a piece of music – the contrasting movements of the play, the physical and textual rhythms, the building of scenes to their climax, and the silences that separate them. And of course the interplay between the actors is sharpened. Once a scene has been broken down and worked on, Anthony will then run the scene and give notes to the actors.
Anthony also has meetings with other creatives on the production, such as the sound designer. This takes place in the rehearsal room where Anthony and the sound designer can discuss in detail the sound requirements of the play whilst walking around the rehearsal set.
Other aspects of the production continue to run alongside the rehearsals. Costume, hair and wig fittings for the actors occur during this week, which then allows the design team the time needed for any alterations to be made. Also, new props and furniture are continually brought into the rehearsal room by the stage management team, to be used by the actors, which again allows time for any changes.
Week 4
This week begins with a run-through of the play so far. This is important for the full company, as after a couple of weeks of detailed work everyone needs to regain a sense of the bigger picture. This is a chance for the actors to feel their characters’ journeys; for the director to assess how the overall story is coming across and to chart how the more detailed work is functioning; for the adapter to experience the script in context; and for the set and costume teams to check their designs against what the actors are now doing in practice. This is an exciting and sometimes nervous event. To take some of the pressure off the process, Anthony decides to run the first three acts of the play - which have been staged and re-worked over the previous week - but to run the final act sitting down without the staging, as it has not had so much attention and there is still plenty of time for running the whole play at the end of this week.
The run-through shows that the first three acts are in good shape. There are some conversations with the adaptor Mike Poulton about cuts and changes that may help the story-telling or that may make the actors more comfortable with their words.
The next two days are spent working in detail on Act 4. As it has been a few days since we last worked on it, the cast and director spend some time talking and thinking about the characters motivations and choices in the context of those made in the previous acts. After this discussion the actors walk through the scene with scripts in hand – the process is faster if they don’t have to try to remember their lines at the same time. This whole process shows up new and better options and the act becomes tighter.
Once Act 4 has been re-worked we work backwards looking at Acts 3, 2, and 1 in preparation for the run-through on Saturday morning. We spend more time than anticipated on Act 3, developing the intensity of Rebecca West’s confession scene. This is very productive but it means that on Friday afternoon we can only re-cap Act 2 and we have not seen Act 1 since Monday. We decided that even if Act 1 feels a little distant we should run the whole play on Saturday all the same, particularly because the coming Monday is a Bank Holiday and we cannot rehearse. The re-workings prove successful and the run on Saturday morning shows a lot of good things. Our lighting and sound designers are present and can get a very clear sense of the atmospheres they will be creating.
Week 5
The final week in the rehearsal studio before we get onto the actual set in the theatre is divided up into run-throughs of the play and sessions to re-work any specific aspects that need attention. We have notes to give the cast from Saturday’s run-through. We saw then that Act 1 could certainly benefit from some closer attention before we run again. In addition we would like to give the actors a chance to look at aspects of Act 3, where the scene between Rebecca West and Dr Kroll is becoming very exciting but the information that it conveys is so significant, for both cast and audience, that it could do with a couple of hours of calm and considered assessment. We would also like to give the final scene between Rosmer and Rebecca a couple of hours.
Monday is a Bank Holiday, so the cast return feeling rested and energised. Tuesday is spent working Act 1. The basic moves are fine and the performances are developing well, but there are positions that can be fine tuned, and choices that need refining. We work through the scene chronologically, stopping where necessary and adjusting. This is often a case of something as simple as a character finding a stronger position in the set, or staying seated when previously they had been standing up. Sometimes the alteration is more significant and requires the actor to re-assess the effect a certain piece of information has or what their attitude should be at a particular moment. The major objectives of the characters remain as they were, but this fine tuning gives the scenes greater dynamism and brings them closer to readiness for performance. 

On Wednesday morning we tweak Acts 3 and 4 before running the piece in the afternoon. A production meeting over lunch has brought no major problems to light, and the creative team are able to stay to watch the run through. The play is now running at just over 3 hours, not including the intervals. We feel sure that this will drop by about 20 minutes as the cast get quicker at picking up cues and we adjust the tempo of certain scenes.
Our plan is to run the play on Friday afternoon and again on Saturday morning, giving us Thursday and Friday morning to do more fine tuning, clarifying a few choices and stage positions and injecting more pace into certain scenes. We have invited a few guests and Almeida Theatre staff to watch the Friday afternoon run. Anthony likes to give the cast as much opportunity as possible to perform in front of an audience. It is also very useful to get fresh perspectives on the production, and to analyse whether information will be conveyed clearly to people who are seeing it for the first time.
The run through shows that the narrative is coming across clearly and the performances are becoming very exciting. We note the occasions when the tension drops or the tempo seems wrong, and any aspects that did not ring true. Most of these can be fixed by giving notes to the cast and do not require a scene to be re-worked. On Saturday morning we spend an hour on notes, and then decide to run the first half of the play. The cast have taken on board the issues that we discussed and the first half has a real buzz to it. We plan a line run for Monday morning and a final run in the rehearsal room on Monday afternoon before moving into the theatre on Tuesday.

Helen McCrory in rehearsal for Rosmersholm. Photo Johan Persson

The inspiration behind Rosmersholm
Ibsen based Johannes Rosmer on an old acquaintance of his, Count Carl Snoilsky, while Rebecca West bore certain resemblances to Snoilsky’s second wife.
In his youth Snoilsky had been a gifted poet but after he married and joined the civil service his creativity ended. In 1879, however, at the age of 38 he left the Foreign Office, divorced his wife, married one of her relatives and went into voluntary exile. Three years after the divorce Snoilsky’s wife died of consumption and many people blamed him for her death.

He, however, had found himself able to write again, and in a style very different from that of his youth. He had become absorbed by the class struggle and the spirit of revolution, longing to enter into contact with the common people. Ibsen felt that the new wife's sensitivity and strength of character were largely responsible for Snoilsky's regeneration as a human being.
Ibsen’s notes that accompanied the first draft of Rosmersholm attest to this influence:  

'He, a refined aristocratic character, who has switched to a liberal viewpoint and been ostracized by all his former friends and acquaintances. A widower; had been unhappily married to a half-mad melancholic who ended by drowning herself.

She, the governess of his two daughters, emancipated, hot-blooded, somewhat ruthless beneath a refined exterior. Is regarded by their acquaintances as the evil spirit of the house; an object of suspicion and gossip.'

Stage design

The stage set for the Almeida production of Rosmersholm is strongly influenced by the evocative paintings of Danish artist Vilhelm Hammershøi, a painter roughly contemporary with Ibsen and whose work is shortly to go on display in an exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts (28 June - 7 Sept 2008).

'Setting the scene', an article from the Royal Academy of Arts magazine (no. 99, Summer 2008), discusses the inspiration Hammershøi has provided in stage productions of Ibsen's work

Read article 

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