Vol. 5 Num 695 Sun. May 14, 2006  

Ibsen Commemoration '06 Bangladesh
A Japanese production of Ghosts staged

Bold and spontaneous performance of the actors can overcome language barrier. This was evident during the Japanese presentation of Henrik Ibsen's play Ghosts. Translated by Mitsua Mori, Japanese troupe -- Ibsen Performance Group staged the play at the National Theatre Stage, Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on May 12.

Keeping the spotlight subtle, a gloomy ambience was created throughout the play, not to portray the supernatural elements, but to focus the darkness in a society -- promiscuousness of the male and sacrifice of the female to adjust with the family-life.

Like his father, Oswald Alving is ailing with syphilis and leads a reckless life. And it is not only the subject of inherited venereal disease that is offended in the play, but Ibsen's broad-fronted assault on bourgeois hypocrisy, smugness and deceit. And through the decision of Mrs Alving -- not to leave her immoral husband's house -- Ibsen has featured a realistic picture of the society: The men are, by design, unreal, compared to the women.

A powerful performance was given by Keiko Ogawa as a sensitive, believable Helen Alving. In her conversations with Pastor Manders (Shoji Kurisu) during the unveiling of the dark family history, Ogawa's body language, voice modulation and gestures are perfect to present the aesthetic sentiment of the sequences. Shoji Kurisu also delivered a spontaneous performance in the role of a spineless character -- Pastor Manders.

It was challenging for Tatsua Yanagimoto to perform in the role of Oswald Alving who is a 'living dead'. And he has handled that wisely. Kazoko Ito as Regine Engstrad, the young housekeeper reared by Mrs Alving, gave a vibrant performance. In his short presence Kensuke Hosoe as Jacob Engstrad, the drunken carpenter with the broken leg, performed boldly.

As director Nobuhito Hanashima's approach to the play is very simple. Equal momentum remained throughout the play. However, his handling of the two most important aspects of the play -- when Helene reveals the truth and when the orphanage burns -- is not that effective. During the composition of the 'orphanage burning' scene some background noise has been created. A realistic interior design of a house was created as well.

Ghosts was performed as part of the "Ibsen Commemoration '06, Bangladesh" arranged by Centre for Asian Theatre in collaboration with Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and supported by Royal Norwegian Embassy.

A scene from the play Ghosts. PHOTO: Shawkat Jamil