Play by Henrik Ibsen. An election looming. A country on the brink. A rabid press baying for blood. At the centre of the storm 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. "Now I see that love is selfish. It makes you a country of two. At war with the rest of the world."
The London West End Premiere of Henrik Ibsen's play Rosmersholm took place for two matinee performances on 23 February and 5 March 1891 at the Vaudeville Theatre in a production, with an English translation by Charles Archer, that featured Frank Benson as 'Johannes Rosmer', Florence Farr as 'Rebecca West', and Athol Forde as 'Rector Kroll'. Following the premiere, the play was performed by an assortment of casts in the West End around half-a-dozen times over the next 30 years in very short runs of up to around six performances, including in 1893 when it was presented as 'double-bill' with the London Premiere of Act Four of Ibsen's Brand.
Arguably the play's first major London West End production opened on 30 September 1926 at the now demolished Kingsway Theatre. Translated by Robert Farquharson Sharp, this production was staged in 'modern dress' and the cast featured Charles Carson as 'John Rosmer', Edith Evans as 'Rebecca West', and Rupert Harvey as 'James Crowley' (Mr Kroll). It played for 52 performances, closing on 13 November 1926.
Although a there where a couple of short revivals of the play over the next 30-or-so years, the next major London revival took place at the Royal Court Theatre in 1959 in an acclaimed production that transferred to the Comedy Theatre in London's West End the following year and which established the play within the modern English-language theatrical repertoire.
Henrik Ibsen's other plays seen recently in London include Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson at the National Theatre in 2016; The Master Builder with Ralph Fiennes at the Old Vic Theatre in 2016; A Doll's House wth Hattie Morahan at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2013; Ghosts with Lesley Manville at the Trafalgar Studio in 2013; and Brand with Ralph Fiennes at the Haymarket Theatre in 2003.
Rosmersholm 1959 / 1960 West End London revival with Eric Porter and Peggy Ashcroft
Opened 18 November 1959, Closed 19 December 1959 at the Royal Court Theatre
Transferred 5 January 1960, Closed 19 March 1960 at the Comedy Theatre (now Harold Pinter Theatre)
The original cast at the Royal Court Theatre featured Eric Porter as 'Johannes Rosmer' and Peggy Ashcroft as 'Rebecca West', with Mark Dignam as 'Mr Kroll', Alan Dobie as 'Ulrik Brendel', John Blatchley as 'Peder Mortensgaard', and Bee Duffell as 'Mrs Helseth'.
The original cast for the West End transfers to the Comedy Theatre was the same, except for Alan Dobie who took over the role of 'Ulrik Brendel'.
Translated Ann Jellicoe. Directed by George Devine with designs by Motley.
Rosmersholm 1973 London revival with Jeremy Brett and Joan Plowright
Previewed 16 May 1973, Opened 17 May 1973, Closed 9 June 1973 at the Greenwich Theatre
The original cast featured Jeremy Brett as 'John Rosmer' and Joan Plowright as 'Rebecca West', with John Nettleton as 'Doctor Kroll', John Bailey as 'Ulrik Brendel', John Warner as 'Peter Mortensgaard', and Margery Mason as 'Mrs Helseth'.
Translated by Michael Meyer. Directed by Robin Phillips with sets by Roger Butlin, costumes by Daphne Dare and lighting by Nick Chelton.
Rosmersholm 1977 West End revival with Daniel Massey and Claire Bloom
Previewed 18 October 1977, Opened 19 October 1977, Closed 21 January 1978 at the Haymarket Theatre
The original cast featured Daniel Massey as 'John Rosmer' and Claire Bloom as 'Rebecca West', with Michael Aldridge as 'Doctor Kroll', Frank Middlemass as 'Ulrik Brendel', Terrance Hardiman as 'Peter Mortensgaard', and Constance Chapman as 'Mrs Helseth'.
Translated by Jeremy Brooks. Directed by Clifford Williams with designs by Ralph Koltai and lighting by James Baird.
Rosmersholm 1987 London revival with Roger Lloyd Pack and Suzanne Bertish
Previewed 30 April 1987, Opened 6 May 1987, Closed 27 August 1987 (in repertory) at the National Theatre's Cottesloe Theatre (now Dorfman Theatre)
The original cast featured Roger Lloyd Pack as 'John Rosmer' and Suzanne Bertish as 'Rebekka West', with David Ryall as 'Kroll', Robert Eddison as 'Ulrik Brendel', Ken Drury as 'Peder Mortensgaard', and Heather Tobias as 'Mrs Helseth'.
Translated by Frank McGuinness. Directed by Sarah Pia Anderson with designs by Roger Glossop, lighting by Paul Denby, music by Mike Figgis, and sound by Nic Jones.
Rosmersholm 1992 London revival with Corin Redgrave and Francesca Annis
Previewed 17 September 1992, Opened 23 September 1992, Closed 31 October 1992 at the Young Vic Theatre
The original cast featured Corin Redgrave as 'Pastor Johannes Rosmer' and Francesca Annis as 'Rebekka West', with Allan Corduner as 'Headmaster Kroll', Bernard Lloyd as 'Ulrik Brendel', Leo Wringer as 'Peder Mortensgaard', and Miriam Karlin as 'Mrs Helseth'.
Translated by Joan Tindale. Directed by Annie Castledine with designs by Jenny Tiramani, lighting by Jon Linstrum, and music and sound by Stephen Warbeck.
Rosmersholm 2008 London revival with Paul Hilton and Helen McCrory
Previewed 15 May 2008, Opened 22 May 2008, Closed 5 July 2008 at the Almeida Theatre
The original cast featured Paul Hilton as 'Johannes Rosmer' and Helen McCrory as 'Rebecca West', with Malcolm Sinclair as 'Doctor Kroll', Paul Moriarty as 'Ulrik Brendel', Peter Sullivan as 'Peder Mortensgaard', and Veronica Quilligan as 'Mrs Helseth'.
Translated by Mike Poulton. Directed by Anthony Page with sets by Hildegard Bechtler, costumes by Amy Roberts, lighting by Peter Mumford and sound by Gareth Fry.
"In this rarely performed transitional play, the psychoanalytic and the political are arrestingly intertwined... Anthony Page's Almeida production is lucid and compelling but, for my taste, too restrained in its treatment of the drama's symbolic dimension... Where restraint works beautifully is in the brilliant central performance by Helen McCrory. She plays Rebecca West, the wife's former companion who has stayed on as soul mate to Rosmer. When the arch-conservative schoolteacher Kroll realises that the pastor has renounced his religion under Rebecca's influence, he sets about undermining her. Malcolm Sinclair superbly captures the vindictive venom of this outraged reactionary, dropping his bombshells about her incestuous past with a lethal, insinuating relish. It's a play that, badly handled, could lapse into melodrama. But McCrory's portrayal is all the more moving for being wonderfully understated. She confesses her part in driving the wife to suicide with a low-key, palpitating courage that radiates love for Rosmer." The Independent
"Mike Poulton's new translation manages to sound contemporary without recourse to inappropriate modernisms and he has a wonderful ear for the ironic pronouncement... Helen McCrory is superb. She wears Rebecca's radicalism lightly, subtly bantering with Kroll until he is reduced to bluster, encouraging Rosmer through flattery and guile. Her gradual erosion is stealthy and cumulative, and her breakdown all the more affecting for it... Weakened by guilt over the suicide of his wife, Rosmer is batted between the two opposing forces. In denial of his past, it is his past that finally proves his undoing. Anthony Page's approach works well for most of the play, though it militates against the problematic last act that requires an intensity bordering on melodrama to be wholly successful. Even so, the chilling last line 'the dead wife has them now' reverberates long into the night." The Daily Express
"This is the least well known of Ibsen's greatest plays, and Anthony Page gives it a magnificent production. As usual, Page probes his characters like a ruthless but unbiased analyst. Rosmer (Paul Hilton) is a Protestant pastor who has lost his faith and embarked on a personal crusade of liberalism and freethinking. Rebecca West (Helen McCrory) is his comrade in arms. Both suffer from the lethal disease of immature idealism and a claustrophobia of the soul. Ibsen's tragic theme is the uselessness of idealism in a corrupt and oppressive society... This tough, shocking and emotional play is more topical than you'd think, and the acting, fiercely restrained but scorching with truthfulness, has a great liberating power." The Sunday Times
Rosmersholm in London at the Almeida Theatre previewed from 15 May 2008, opened on 22 May 2008, and closed on 5 July 2008
Rosmersholm 2019 West End London revival with Tom Burke and Hayley Atwell
Previewed 23 April 2019, Opened 2 May 2019, Closed 20 July 2019 at the Duke of York's Theatre
A major revival of Henrik Ibsen's play Rosmersholm in London starring Tom Burke and Hayley Atwell for a strictly limited season
An election looming. A country on the brink. A rabid press baying for blood. At the centre of the storm 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. "Now I see that love is selfish. It makes you a country of two. At war with the rest of the world."
The cast features Tom Burke as 'John Rosmer' and Hayley Atwell as 'Rebecca West', with Giles Terera as 'Andreas Kroll', Peter Wight as 'Ulrik Brendel', Jake Fairbrother as 'Peter Mortensgaard', and Lucy Briers as 'Mrs Helseth'.
Adapted and translated by Duncan Macmillan. Directed by Ian Rickson with designs by Rae Smith, lighting by Neil Austin, music by Stephen Warbeck, and sound by Gregory Clarke.
Tom Burke's London theatre credits include the role of 'Freddie Page' in Carrie Cracknell's revival of Terrence Rattigan's The Deep Blue Sea at the National Theatre's Lyttelton Theatre in 2016; the role of 'Otto' in Anthony Page's revival of Noel Coward's Design for Living at the Old Vic Theatre in 2010; and the role of 'Malcolm' in John Caird's revival of Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Almeida Theatre in 2005.
Hayley Atwell's West End stage credits include the role of 'Sylvia' in Jamie Lloyd's production of Alexi Kaye Campbell's Pride at the Trafalgar Studios in 2013; and the role of 'Catherine' in Lindsay Posner's revival of Arthur Miller's A View From The Bridge at the Duke of York's Theatre in 2009.
When this production here at the Duke of York's Theatre in May 2019, Sarah Hemming in the Financial Times thought that the play is "brought up fresh here in a glowing production from Ian Rickson that combines scrupulous period detail with sharp contemporary resonance and is led by a superb performance from Hayley Atwell.... Rickson's cast bring a galvanising combination of clarity and emotional intensity to it, deftly unpicking the confused mix of personal and political feeling that drives the characters." Dominic Cavendish in the Daily Telegraph said that this is "a West End production of revelatory finesse - which receives hypnotically controlled and considered performances from its principals," adding that "Hayley Atwell is beautifully withheld and richly ambiguous, observing her station and keeping her counsel, and yet implying with amused glances she can see further than anyone... A treat." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard commented how "Hayley Atwell and Tom Burke smoulder in this rarely revived play by Henrik Ibsen... The play is hard to get right full of protracted conversations and scenes verging on melodrama. But in this crisp version by Duncan Macmillan, it's absorbing. Ian Rickson's production is expertly paced." Ann Treneman in the Times described how "Ian Rickson directs, stoking the passion, political and emotional, although it does take the occasional melodramatic turn... The ending, when it comes, is shockingly beautiful." Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail highlighted that "Ian Rickson's revival of Ibsen's ignored 1886 drama is packed with riveting performances... Heavy? You bet! But acting of this quality should not be left to chin-stroking Ibsen fans." Matt Wolf in the i newspaper held that, "blessed with a dream design team and an ace trio of leads, Ibsen's sometimes murky psychology here rivets throughout... the production sweeps you along on currents of energy not always associated with this playwright." Neil Norman in the Daily Express wrote that using "Duncan Macmillan's revelatory new adaptation... Ian Rickson's production keeps faith with the period while allowing the contemporary resonances to seep through... A great example of a lost play being found in translation." John Nathan in the London Metro praised that "terrific translation here by Duncan Macmillan... And though this classic may be a tragedy, Hayley Atwell is nothing short of inspiring."
Giles Terera's West End theatre credits include the role of 'Caliban' in Trevor Nunn's revival of Shakespeare's The Tempest at the Haymarket Theatre in 2011.
Peter Wight's London stage credits include the role of 'Petey' in Ian Rickson's revival of Harold Pinter's The Birthday Party at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2018; the role of 'Polonius' in Robert Icke's revival of Shakespeare's Macbeth at the Harold Pinter Theatre in 2017; the role of 'Servant' in Ian Rickson's revival of Sophocles' Electra at the Old Vic Theatre in 2014; the role of 'Dogberry' in Mark Rylance's revival of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing at the Old Vic Theatre in 2013; and the role of 'Stephen' in Simon Curtis' revival of Simon Gray's comedy Otherwise Engaged at the Criterion Theatre in 2005.
Lucy Briers' London theatre credits include the role of 'Parthy Ann Hawkes' in Daniel Evans' revival of the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein II musical Show Boat at the New London Theatre in 2016; the role of 'Katherine of Aragon' in Jeremy Herrin's production of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies at the Aldwych Theatre in 2014; the roles of 'Pope Joan' and 'Louise' in Max Stafford-Clark's revival of Caryl Churchill's Top Girls at the Trafalgar Studio in 2011; and the role of 'Babakina' in Michael Grandage's revival of Anton Chekhov's Ivanov at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2008.
"Hayley Atwell is superb as the wired Rebecca, one of Ibsen's greatest heroines... Ian Rickson's pacy production features the excellent Peter Wight as a drunken tutor from Rosmer's past. Lucy Briers is the fraught, superstitious housekeeper. Full of torrential talk about sex, freedom and politics, it's not an easy play. But even when it occasionally went over my head, I never doubted I was watching a really passionate masterpiece about how we should live." The Mail on Sunday
"The name may not trip easily off the tongue, but the names of its stars do, with Hayley Atwell and Tom Burke both easily recognisable in this energetic production. Rosmer (Tom Burke) is a respected pastor, and the action takes place in his crumbling mansion, Rosmersholm.... The rich/poor divide, need for change just beyond reach, and not trusting the idiots in charge are all relatable issues to charm and disarm the audience. But Atwell, as Rebecca, is the star - her brilliantly modern, flawed heroine sparkling with energy, hope and complexity." The Sunday Mirror
"Hayley Atwell's Rebecca West teeters between voluptuousness and fragility. Bewitching. She and Tom Burke's Rosmer are well matched as two morose thirtysomethings who don't know how lucky they are. Ian Rickson's production is so beautifully staged and acted, you can forgive its moments of Freudian blether... The play's dramatic weakness is that Rosmer and West are such unrelenting miseries. When they depart, it's actually a blessed relief. Yet this is a fine revival, complete with a closing coup de theatre." The Sunday Times
Duncan Macmillan's London credits include the play People, Places and Things seen at the Wyndham's Theatre in 2016; and the co-adaptation, with Robert Icke, of George Orwell's 1984 seen at the Playhouse Theatre for three seasons in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
Rosmersholm in London at the Duke of York's Theatre previewed from 23 April 2019, opened on 2 May 2019, and closed on 20 July 2019