Since I had read the script, I could follow the story. But I think I couldn't understand the change of nuance that arose from the new translation. So I write this from my impression that I got from the stage "watching", and the script " reading". But I felt the stage almost played with fidelity to the original script. Although they added some sexy actions, I thought it was orthodox.
My first impression of the script was "Wow, it's so sexy!" There was no plain sexy scene, but there were very complicated minds of characters, and their minds made a tense relationship. I found it arousing. And somehow, men at painful situations look always sexy. I thought that Patrick Stewart had to be fit for the main character.
But actually, I had a strong sympathy with Hilda. The actress who played the roll was so wonderful ! think Solness is a symbol to Hilda. He is the symbol of something glorious, someone came to a boring countryside and built a great tower, and someone could take her away to some wonderful place. She is attracted by the image of him, rather than real Solness.
So she refuses his actual temptation convulsively from sudden fear. Then she can't overlook his dirty conduct that holds Ragnar down, because he must be a glorious man for her. She doesn't cry when Solness dies, and she finds the significance of his death exciting. I can understand her mind that depends on only images, because I was a dreamer too..
When I read the script, I thought that it was nonsense that a young girl keeps loving an old man over ten years from only one kiss. (Of course, maybe it's possible if "the old man" was Patrick Stewart!) It looked a typical fantasy for middle-aged men. But when I watched the live performance, I read another reality. Maybe her hometown was too boring. And perhaps, she had a hard time that she couldn't stand there. Then she recalled the image of Solness as someone who can take her away, I think. She is very active, but she believes that someone is necessary to release herself. It's a limit of her mind. But it is natural for a girl who was living a hundred years ago. She was a very convincing character.
Solness is so attractive because he is feeling guilty. He knows that he is doing wrongs against Ragnar and Knut Brovik. He has enough conscience that can't justify himself. When Hilda asked him why he didn't call himself an architect, he replied he never had the proper training. Brovik and his son were necessary to him for a complicated calculation of architecture. He couldn't lose Ragnar in that point too. He knows how guilty his own self is. And he accepts his guilty situation. He knows even his own slight madness. This kind of character is so attractive. It's very pitiable that he continues to build nurseries that are no use.
His madness is enough to do this painful act to him and his wife again and again, but it isn't enough to be unconscious of his abnormality. Solness took out a pencil from his inner pocket when Hilda demanded that he write a comment on Ragnar's drawing. Mr. Stewart's performance was so impressive to me at that moment. He looked to be witched. It was the moment he obviously stepped in Hilda's imaginary world. Hilda wants a kind of salvation from him. I think he also expects an escape from reality, by playing the salvation for her. He accepts that he escapes with her into the world of fantasy.
The play toured in UK for about two months. About sexy scenes, I seem to remember that Mr. Stewart said that it was a sexy play although they hardly had physical contacts. I think he talked it in a interview about June. In the conservative district, some audience left in the middle of the play. It seems that they felt it immoral. But in the London version, there were some physical contacts. The play seemed to have been improving. I wrote "Solness tries to press her to him", in the story section, but actually, he didn't touch her shoulder or back when I saw the play. He just grabbed her buckle, and pulled strongly. Hilda was so slim. So the action emphasized his manly side that he hadn't showed well until that moment. It was very effective. I was hit by the sudden sexy vitality.
And at the last of Act two, after the talk about vikings, Solness promised to put a wreath up the tower. Then he kissed her just before he left. where? …It was her wrists both. It was incredibly sexy than lip or cheek. After he left, Hilda rubbed her wrist and said, "Terribly exciting." (I confirmed this line from the script. I can't remember it was the same words in the new translation.) This phrase is the same as the word she said about women who captured by vikings. (She said that that had to be exciting. Solness questioned, "capturing women?" She answered, "Being captured.") Somehow, some audience laughed after this line. But I was just being fascinated.
It was a little difficult for me to have a empathy with Aline. She is also out of her mind slightly. (All main characters have mad part.) She showed her complicated mind when she revealed that she regrets her dolls rather than her children. The explosion of her sadness was so impressive. But to me, her impression was thinner than that of other two characters.
Actually, Solness didn't appear on the stage at the last scene. His last appearance was the scene he brought a wreath to the new house. The last scene proceeded by other characters. They described Solness's act with their lines as if they were seeing him beyond the audience. I have read about British play in the book of Shoji Kokami. (a Japanese popular stage director. He studied at British play school several years ago, and wrote his experiences.) He wrote that British play gave too high priority to realism. When I saw the last scene, I thought he had said this. I guess Japanese directors will like to show something that implies Solness in a back of actors who face audience. (I don't think they show even real Solness. It seems too much childish expression.)
Anyway, the scene was progressed with descriptive words like "His head is all smashed in. He fell right into the quarry!" or something. Descriptive words have a possibility of making us laugh when it doesn't work correctly. But in that simple style, I think it was a natural way. The success of the last scene depended on the power of actors. Thanks Lisa, her powerful acting kept the tension until the end. After Solness fell, other characters were shocked and depressed. But she kept looking at the high place Solness had stood. And she shouted, "My master builder!" It was so sad and symbolic ending.
Solness calls the Lord just "he". It seems that the God who demands loyalty is a common image in the Christian world. The play's conclusion seemed to have been the God's punishment, and at the same time, it seemed that it depended on Solness's madness. This kind of double meaning always excites me. The play can be read so deeply. It is for adults. And words were so important there. I regret that I couldn't hear lines.
(26th, 27th July 2003/Albery theater/London)
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