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Previewed 29 May 2003, Opened 4 June 2003, Closed 30 August 2003 at the Haymarket Theatre in London
The Royal Shakespeare Company present Henrik Ibsen's Brand in London starring Ralph Fiennes and directed by Andrian Noble.
Brand, a priest, is the most devout follower of God. Steadfast of will, he will not condone any form of moral compromise, whatever the circumstances. His sole objective is to serve God and save the souls of his people. So powerful are his convictions, he rejects his dying mother and forbids his wife from mourning their son. Is the road of extreme sacrifice and suffering truly the road to God and ultimate salvation?
The 17 strong cast for Brand features Ralph Fiennes in the title role along with Claire Price as 'Agnes', Susan Engel, Oliver Cotton and Alan David. The production is directed by Adrian Noble with designs by Peter McKintosh, lighting by Peter Mumford, music by Mia Soteriou and sound by Mic Pool.
"If the words 'symbolic masterpiece' don't have you running for cover, you'll find much to chew on in this mighty drama about a ferocious priest, Brand, set in 19th-century Norway... Weird though this deeply gloomy play is, the hair-cropped Ralph Fiennes - never off stage - rises to its mighty challenge... Director Adrian Noble's production, though, is let down by a drab and claustrophobic wooden walled set which lacks the visual thrill of the play's setting amid the fiords and glaciers. Still, the fatal avalanche at the end is worth the wait and there are many moments in this stormy saga of sin and retribution which chill the blood. There's plenty of tat in the West End right now. If you want some challenging, epic drama, Brand is the ticket." The Daily Express
"The first half of Adrian Noble's production is heavy going, a long climb in semi-darkness that somehow keeps finishing up in the same rut: Brand's rant that all or nothing is the only way. But as his journey continues and he comes up against the flaky hypocrites, the local mayor and another clergyman - who always find a reason to compromise - his lonely path becomes increasingly courageous and more involving. And the coup de theatre, when it comes - an avalanche - is breathtaking. Fiennes is technically magnificent, but his performance often strikes you as being a self-conscious masterclass in fine acting. He is all icy-cold intensity, supreme arrogance, charismatic, certainly, and deeply disturbing, but too controlled. It is Clare Price's astonishing, radiant performance as his obedient wife Agnes that touches us." The Mail on Sunday
"Brand was not written to be performed, and the miraculous thing about Adrian Noble's production is that he brings out the drama of the play without pretending that it is conventionally theatrical. Peter McKintosh's tall wooden cyclorama, with a few basic props and with mists whirling behind it, turns the stage into a battleground of the spirit... Like all true tragic heroes, Brand understands things only gradually, and Ralph Fiennes maps his progress like a master. This is a haunting, rocklike performance, but Fiennes has grasped the central point about Brand, which is that he is like a rock that cracks because of its own unyielding hardness and rigidity... Brand the play is both a monumentally old-fashioned parable and a thrillingly modern one, and to have brought it to the West End is a huge achievement." The Sunday Times
"Brand is a Lutheran pastor whose quest for salvation finally leads him to found what amounts to his own sect. It doesn't work: his followers stone him and abandon him. But then the creed he lives by is too much for ordinary flesh and blood. It might best be described as a religion of suffering... Ibsen originally conceived of it as a poem, and it presents the actor or director who is foolhardy enough to tackle it with a daunting challenge. That challenge is handsomely met in Adrian Noble's production at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. Its success naturally depends far more than anything else on the portrayal of Brand himself, and Ralph Fiennes, who plays him, is on searing form - angry, implacable, contemptuous of weakness, altogether driven. It is a largely monochrome performance, but the rigidity is part of the interpretation... For much of the evening the staging is austere to the point of minimalism, but thanks to Peter McKintosh's design and Peter Mumford's lighting there is a truly apocalyptic feel about the avalanche." The Sunday Telegraph
Brand in London at the Haymarket Theatre previewed from 29 May 2003, opened on 4 June 2003 and closed on 30 August 2003.