Ibsen's plays are hard hitting exposures of the smug, male dominated and hypocritical morality of his time. Because his targets existed everywhere and still exist today, his plays are still performed and still attract actors and directors fascinated by the wonderful roles he created.
GHOSTS is about taboos, dead conventions and self deception and the action takes place in a small seaport town in Norway. Mrs. Aveling is the widow of a man of Berlasconi tastes and has dedicated herself to the suppression of the truth, in part by opening an orphanage in his memory. In this she is supported by the local priest Pastor Manders who dedicates himself more to ensuring things should appear respectable than to their unlying truth. Alongside this hypocritical character we find the carpenter Engstrand whose principal preoccupation is the opening of a seaman's hostel in the town, clearly better described as a brothel. Into this fragrant scene returns Mrs. Aveling's son Oswald. He is ill and his illness was inherited from his father. The secondary syphilis which has been eating into him since birth is about to claim him. But that's not all - with Ibsen it never is. Oswald has become attached to the Aveling's maid, Regina, who unbeknown to either of them is a byblow of Mr. Aveling's activities brought up, for a fee of course, by Engstrand. The translation that Frank Moorby has chosen to work with is truly excellent and after the above summary you may be surprised to learn that there is considerable humour in the play. The wonderful deviousness of Manders and Engstrand offers great opportunities to any actor over 50. Regina is a feisty girl with lots of character. Oswald, a part for a younger man, needs a strong interpretation and it should be an enjoyable part to play. Mrs. Aveling is one of the great theatrical parts for women.