the friend online
27 June 2003


Brand - preview

by Henrik Ibsen, performed at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, London to the end of August

An early play by a master dramatist with a performing time of six and a half hours, intended to be read as a dramatic poem rather than performed on stage, sounds like a recipe for failure
  • Looking at an edited translation by Michael Meyer, director Adrian Noble and actor Ralph Fiennes decided it was a challenge worth accepting, though judging by some of the critical reviews, it remains a controversial decision

  • Brand is a protestant pastor of the most uncompromising sort, whose motto is 'All or nothing'
  • He demands of himself and others total commitment on the narrow path to salvation, thus attaining a messianic quality which commands respect and even discipleship from his flock
  • But the ultimate message of the play, declaimed by a heavenly voice after a (beautifully staged) cataclysmic avalanche is 'He is the God of Love'
  • In other words, Brand's steely exercise of willpower is not the answer and the sacrifices which he has made on his uncompromising path – including the lives of his baby and then his wife – have been

    Chas Raws

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