John Gabriel Borkman is a play about the decline and death of Ken Lay of Enron.
OK, well, Henrik Ibsen wrote it in 1896 in Norway but John Gabriel Borkman's story is so similar to Kenneth Lays that if Ken Lay ever went to see the play, I bet the universe would collapse in on itself in an apocalyptic meeting of matter and anti-matter.
John Gabriel Borkman just got out of jail for fiddling with the accounts. He's got a bitter, twisted wife, a son, a love affair going with the wife's twin, and a battle between wife and twin for the son's affection. Also he has a frenemy and a big bucket of ego.
Ian McDiarmid plays Borkman. I had to point out to my friends that he was the emperor in the Star Wars movie (the guy in the cape who convinces Anakin to come to the dark side). He is a fantastic stage actor. Borkman is a megalomaniac and kind of a meanypants but in McDiarmid's gifted hands, the character is rounder, softer, more interesting and powerful than just a guy on a quest for money. I could see the wrong actor really screwing it up. And by the way, no, I don't just go to see plays that have movie actors in the cast. As I said in a different post, I am going to see Mr. Bubbles Saves the Day on Saturday.
Every character in the play has his or her own version of reality. Sitting in the audience watching them collide (and watching it snow in the background) I wondered about myself and my family and what stories I believed about us that perhaps were just not true. And this before I went online and found out that this play is considered a psychological drama. Ibsen also weaves fantastic observations into the action. A conversation between Borkman and his frenemy is a beautiful study of the deceptive nature of friendship.
The Donmar, like the Almeida, is one of those theatres that rarely gets anything wrong, an evening there is virtually guaranteed to be enjoyable. And now that Ken Lay is dead, we don't have to worry about any anti-matter explosions.
Swann - I think we must have been at the show on the same night if the date on your review tallies up! Was there a tiresome woman in the backish, middle rows fiddgeting about a lot with the handbag at her feet!?
I loved it but got a bit weary with some of the 'declaiming'. But all in all not something I would have wanted to miss.