An Enemy of the People
About An Enemy of the People
Originally written by Henrik Ibsen in 1882 and then adapted by American playwright Arthur Miller in the fifties, this adaptation of An Enemy of the People has not been seen in London for nearly 30 years. Miller brings razor sharp psychological precision to Ibsen’s timely thriller about a rebel scientist fighting to expose a corrupt regime and press.
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Although Henrik Ibsen wrote the original version of “An Enemy of the People” in 1882 and Arthur Miller’s adaptation was first produced in 1950, this seering political drama is still chillingly relevant. The Union Theatre has brought the story into the present, setting the play in the fictional small town of Kirsten Falls in the heart of Trump’s America, and the provocative design of this show highlights the inflamed emotion fueling today’s bitter political landscape.
This production of this classic drama leans into its flexible timeliness, not only in its modernised production design but through a refreshing reversal of gender casting as well. Mayor Stockmann, historically a male role, is authoritatively portrayed as a fierce, stalwart politician by Mary Stewart. In a raucous debate over the necessity of economic prosperity versus health and safety – prominent in both the plot of the play and in real-life politics – a town hall quickly transforms into a boisterous mob. The question remains in the end: How can humanity break the cycle of prioritising politics over the public good?
What To Watch For
- Henrik Ibsen, much like Arthur Miller after him, was the subject of frequent public outrage and skepticism for his contentious plays. “The Enemy of the People” was written as a direct response to the mass outcry from critics of his previous work “Ghosts,” which prominently features themes of adultery and syphilis.
- According to The New York Times, the Union Theatre is one of several theatre companies who’ve made the connection between Trump’s presidency and the plot of “The Enemy of the People.” Based on data from “IbsenStage,” the number of productions in the U.S. jumped from two to eight from 2015 to 2017.
- In 1978, Miller’s adaptation was made into a film starring Steve McQueen as Dr. Stockmann, the character who mostly closely resembles an autobiographical version of Miller himself.
2 hours plus an interval