David Hare's lively adaptation of Ibsen's classic brings this complex multi levelled play right into the 21st century.
Halvard Solness, the ageing master builder (Ralph Fiennes), controls the lives of those around him. He has destroyed the architectural practice of Knut Brovik and resolutely refuses to acknowledge the talent of Brovik's nephew, Ragnar (Martin Hutson) to allow him to blossom. His abusive, controlling behaviour to Kaja (Charlie Cameron), who is both Ragnar's fiancée and Solness' clerk, is uncomfortably like that of Rob Titchener in The Archers.
His marriage to Aline (Linda Emond) is overshadowed by a disastrous fire at her parental home, which is simultaneously destructive of her past life and identity and an opportunity or a miracle for him to launch his successful career. It also caused the death of their twin baby boys bringing endless burdens of grief, guilt and drivenness.
The net of these constrained relationships is broken open by the arrival of a young dazzling stranger, Hilde Wagel (Sarah Snook). As an angel or a princess, she brings together the past, present and future, with, may be, false memories. With her Solness is freed up to explore his ideas of God, church and religion alongside more mythic talk of trolls and Vikings as they build together 'castles in the air', seeking enlightenment outside normal comfort zones.
Director Matthew Warchus has returned The Old Vic to its proscenium grandeur and the stark, dark set by Rob Howell is suitably Nordic. From Brovik's opening scream of frustration to the shocking climax we are completely engrossed in their world of damaged inner lives and consciousness.
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