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Ian Rickson directs this West End premiere of Duncan Macmillan’s startling new adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s gripping politics, Rosmersholm.
With a cast led by Tom Burke (TV’s Strike, The Musketeers) as John Rosmer and Hayley Atwell (Howards End, Captain America) as Rebecca West – one of Ibsen’s greatest heroines – Rosmersholm is a piercingly relevant work of personal and political passion.
The searing new production marks the 10th collaboration between Sonia Friedman Productions and director Ian Rickson – past collaborations include The Birthday Party, Mojo, Old Times, Betrayal, Jerusalem – and marks a second time working with award-winning writer and director Duncan Macmillan, who previously collaborated on the West End and Broadway run of 1984, which he co-adapted/co-directed with Robert Icke. Macmillian’s plays include People Places and Things, which enjoyed huge success both in the West End and on Broadway.
With Rosmersholm now open at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre, here’s what you need to know:
With an election looming and a country on the brink, the rabid press is baying for blood. At the centre of the political turmoil is Rosmersholm, the grand house of an influential dynasty. This is where the future will be decided by John Rosmer – a man torn between the idealised hope of the future and the ghosts of his past.
Rosmer is haunted by history and tradition, but under the influence of Rebecca West – enigmatic and unpredictable – the winds of change come to Rosmersholm with the force of a hurricane.
The central pair are portrayed by Tom Burke and Hayley Atwell, as John Rosmer and Rebecca West respectively. Burke’s extensive TV, film and theatre credits include the title character in the BBC adaptation of Srike, and as Athos in BBC period action drama, The Musketeers. Recent theatre roles include Deep Blue Sea at the Royal National Theatre alongside Helen McCrory.
Hayley Atwell’s credits include as reoccurring character Peggy Carter in the Avengers series, including a role in the most recent box office smash Endgame and leading the Agent Carter TV series cast. Twice nominated for a coveted Olivier Award, Atwell’s stage credits include The Pride at Trafalgar Studios and A View from the Bridge at the home of Rosmersholm, the Duke of York’s theatre.
The duo are joined by Giles Terera, who took home the Olivier Award for Best Actor In A Musical for his portrayal of Aaron Burr in Hamilton. Veteran British actor Lucy Briers also stars, with the cast completed by Jake Fairbrother, Peter Wight, Gavin Antony, Ebony Buckle, Piers Hampton, Maureen Hibbert, Robyn Lovell, and Alice Vilanculo.
Originally written in 1886 and performed the following year, Rosmersholm’s central themes remain relevant in the present day. Built around questions of belonging, of political unrest and of morality, the story primarily unfolds through intricate dialogue between the leading cast. During its riveting running time, the protagonists explore grief, guilt and power, stunningly delivered by an expert cast.
Tom Burke’s John Rosmer and Hayley Atwell’s Rebecca West carry much of the weight of the heavy subject on their shoulders, and easily switch from fury to love, and from pain to absolution. Giles Terera, in his first West End role since departing the cast of Hamilton, brilliantly embodies the excess of power, playing the battle between friendship and justice.
Unfurling among flawless stage design, Rosmersholm is open for interpretation. In the 100 plus years since its creation attitudes and opinions have dramatically shifted, yet playwright Henrik Ibsen’s feels remarkably contemporary. Raising questions about the role of media, general mistrust, and conflicting political ideologies, by its tense climax, Rosmersholm plants countless seeds of thought that grow long after the curtain has dropped.
“Breathtaking” ★★★★★ – Guardian
“Grippingly modern. A treat” ★★★★ – Daily Telegraph
“Shockingly beautiful” ★★★★ – Whatsonstage
“Mesmerising” ★★★★ – Evening Standard
“Riveting” ★★★★ – Daily Mail
“Nothing short of inspiring” ★★★★ – Metro
Rosmersholm is now showing at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre. The show runs at 2 hours 20 minutes including a 15 minute interval. Performances run at 19:30 on Tuesday – Saturday, and 14:30 on Wednesday and Saturday.
Duke of York’s Theatre is located St Martin’s Lane between Charing Cross and Covent Garden.
Tickets for Rosmersholm at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre are available now through Ticketmaster.co.uk.
Photos by Johan Persson