Ghosts - performed May 1994

By Henrik Ibsen

Director - Sarah McCarthy


(in order of appearance)

Regina Sarah McCarthy
Engstrand Adrian Bolton
Pastor Manders Alan Wheeler
Mrs Alving Val Taylor
Oswald Chris Mason

Production Team

Jude Hussey, Rosamund, Pettett, Greg Garrad, Alan Laurie, Derek Butcher, Bruce Emeny, Maurice Barber, Paul Spendley, Jenny Glayzer, Nancy Galsworthy, Gill Baxter, Viv Wheatley, and other volunteers not mentioned.

The Play

“Ghosts” is a drama that explores some of Ibsen’s recurring themes. Can an individual break free from the “ghosts” of the past that affect their life? If one does not obey rules and moral codes of society is retribution sure to follow? Can personal liberation come only from self knowledge?
During the action of the play we share Mrs Alving’s torment as she struggles to deal with the “Ghosts” that haunt her life, lies that she was told to protect the reputation of her dead husband have disastrous consequences. Her beloved only son, Oswald, suffer the “inheritance” received from his father. Can Mrs Alving summon up the courage to shatter his ideals and end his suffering? As the plot unfolds we realise that relationships are not what they seem. Past indiscretions have not been buried and the results spoil Regina’s hopes for the future and consign her to the waterfront bordello her “father” proposes to set up. The reputation of Pastor Manders Mrs Alving’s business advisor and first true love, is only saved by more falsehoods. Only Engstand the Carpenter a man of “many weaknesses” seems to gain anything from the day’s events. Many of the themes explored are relevant today and it is this timelessness that makes Ibsen on the of Worlds greatest dramatists.


So that’s Ibsen then! Never having seen one of his plays before, I can’t say I’d rush to see another but I’m glad not to have missed the experience. Like all the so-called classics, this three-act drama was often heavy going, yet at the same time the compelling storyline held the audience captive. The dialogue was at time too long and involved, using 20 words where one or two would do, leaving some watchers bewildered and to question among themselves the exact nature of the “problems” suffered by the characters. This was the last production of the Group’s current season and the players are undoubtedly due a rest after this marathon effort

Just sitting in the audience I came away feeling drained, so how much more emotionally exhausted must the five on stage have been? And they had four more performances to do. The three main Characters were played by Alan Wheeler, Val Taylor and Chris Mason and all gave outstanding and memorable performances. They were ably supported by Sarah McCarthy, who also directed the production staged as part of the Manningtree Festival, and Adrian Bolton. It was a pity that there were so many empty seats – at least there were on the Tuesday – perhaps due to the number of other things being on in the area at the same time.
Lesley Pallett

Just how have they done it? How do you set up a well equipped theatre with the atmosphere of Shaftesbury Avenue in a tiny corner of a small town? However they managed it this group deserves it – several times over. Everything is well run and well done from the moment you arrive and what happens on stage is nothing short of superb. Having set themselves this severest of challenges they not only meet it but conquer it with triumph in a production that is detailed, powerful and immensely theatrically satisfying. Ibsen’s drama of inheritance, both physical and mental still has the power to shock. It’s no real surprise that early critics couldn’t cope with it at all. Yet hope is there in a desperate struggle to affirm “the joy of life”. All this and more is here in a production which draws you in to its depths emotionally and intellectually. Val Taylor’s Mrs Alving leads with a commanding intensity. With the formal, almost stiff bearing of a woman who has kept her awful secret hidden, she is also both dignified and defiant. A glimmer emerges of he woman she might have been, there is the pain and the guilt – all in her every expression and movement.

Between her and Oswald, Chris Mason, there is the awful love guilt of mother and son. And he is tortured. Full of despair and hope by turns he descends into a syphilitic helplessness that brings tears even now as I write. Alan Wheeler’s Pastor Maunders is a preaching and naïve idealist struggling against an overriding instinct for self-preservation and sexual attraction. Director Sarah McCarthy plays Regina with the grit of a girl determined to pull herself out of the gutter.
On a set heavy with the irony of warmth and growth these were five towering performance. Unforgettable.
Frances Whyte

Photo Shoot

If you have any photos from this production, then please let us know.