An Enemy of the People – Gate Theatre – Review

An Enemy of the People - The Gate

The development of Kirsten Springs promises to change the lives of all those in its locality. New wealth has come to the area and land prices are starting to increase rapidly. It is all due to the new spa and the healing powers of the local waters. Dr. Thomas Stockmann is an idealist and a friend of many of the radicals and free thinkers in the town. When he makes the discovery that the water in the lake is polluted with waste from the local tannery, he naively thinks he will be hailed as a hero.

Central to the play is the battle between Dr. Thomas Stockmann (Declan Conlon) and the Mayor of the town, his brother, Peter Stockmann (Denis Conway). It is clear from the outset that there have always been differences between the two in their lifestyle and views. The play is based on one man’s attempt to tell the truth, while the other tries to stop the truth coming out at all costs.

This play was written by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen in 1882 and adapted by Arthur Miller in 1950. Ibsen wrote it after the outcry at his play ‘Ghosts’ which was considered shocking at the time it was written due to its portrayal of hypocrisy in Victorian morality. The central theme of the play is people’s unwillingness to accept the truth, if a lie is easier and better financially. There are obvious comparisons between these times and modern Ireland, and the play seems very apt for the world we live in.

This is an impressive new production of the Ibsen play that breathes new life and imagination into it. The scene with the town meeting, where Thomas tries to tell the people what he has discovered converts the gate theatre into a meeting hall, with many of the actors shouting comments and criticisms at the stage from amongst the audience. This scene is central to the production and serves to bring the audience into the performance.

The play deals well with the moral dilemma of a man who has the choice to stand by his convictions or fold to popular opinion. There are several scenes that feel a bit long, and the final scene is a little dragged out, but these small faults are outweighed by the many positives in the play. The direction of Wayne Jordan is adventurous and entertaining. The battle between the two brothers is fascinating and the performances of Conway and Conlon stand out. This is one of the best new productions I’ve seen in the Gate in recent times and is well worthy of your attention.

An Enemy of the People by Henrik Ibsen (Adapted by Arthur Miller) opens tonight at the Gate theatre (review was on last preview) and runs until July 13th, with tickets from €25. Matinees 8th June, 6th and 13th July all priced at €25.

Cast includes:

Fiona Bell, Liam Carney, Steve Cash, Declan Conlon, Denis Conway, Siobhan Cullen, Robert Duff, Jill Harding, Bosco Hogan, Mark Huberman, Ronan Leahy, Callum Martin, Barry McGovern, Morgan Moore, Peter O’Byrne, Donncha O’Dea, James O’Donoghue

Directed by Wayne Jordan

Set Design by Paul O’Mahony

Costume Design by Joan O’Clery

Lighting Design by Davy Cunningham

Music and Sound Design by Philip Stewart


Categories: Theatre

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