Good things come in small packages

Little Eyolf

By Henrik Ibsen
Translated by Rolf Fjelde
Directed by Steve Ramshur
Theatre First Foundation
Century Center Ibsen Series
Equity showcase (closed)
Review by Doug DeVita

Like Ibsen's earlier The Lady From The Sea, Little Eyolf delves into the emotional terrain of coping with personal loss, but in Little Eyolf the landscape is rougher, the stakes are higher, and the outcome is less certain, dealing as it does with a loss not from choice, but from death -- and the death of a child, no less.

With intelligent simplicity as its guiding energy, Ibsen's intensely intimate, rarely performed drama was given a profoundly moving production as part of the Century Center Ibsen Series. Directed by Steven Ramshur with a delicate (but sharp!) scalpel in each hand, this production came to life with a force that easily overcame the occasional expository excesses of Rolf Fjelde's otherwise fine translation.

Linda Marie Larson and Duncan M. Rogers gave subtly nuanced, beautifully detailed performances as Rita and Alfred Allmers, a couple whose fragile marriage is held together by the hopes and dreams they share (or don't) for their crippled child, Eyolf. As Eyolf, Jonathan Press used his limited stage time well, and a dream sequence with Eyolf running and skipping like an ordinary child was heartbreaking. Naomi Peters beautifully underplayed her role of Alfred's half-sister Asta, and was perfectly complemented by the elegantly jocular Gabriel Maxon as Borghejm, her would-be suitor. Joyce Feurring hit just the right balance between serious portentousness and comic relief as The Rat Wife.

Given the three-quarter-round playing area used by Ramshur in his staging, the production's scenic elements were understandably limited to the use of period furniture, lavish or simple according to the scene's requirements (no set designer credited.) Valerie Marcus's costumes, however, were gorgeous to behold, beautifully detailed and allied to character. Chris Brown lit the whole affair with precise attention to the ever-shifting, light and dark moods of the play.

The Century Center Ibsen Series, now nearing the end of the cycle, is to be commended for this revival. Little Eyolf is a masterpiece, undeservedly neglected, and this production certainly made as strong a case as possible that it should take its place alongside Ibsen's equally beautiful but better-known works.

Box Score:

Writing: 2
Directing: 2
Acting: 2
Set: 2
Costumes: 2
Lighting/Sound: 2

Return to Volume Eight, Number thirty-three Index

Return to Volume Eight Index

Return to Home Page

Copyright 2002 Doug DeVita