January 20, 2011

My review of John Gabriel Borkman has just been posted on The production launches the spring season at the Brooklyn Academy of Music and stars Alan Rickman, Fiona Shaw, and Lindsay Duncan.

John Gabriel Borkman is one of those plays by a great author that one hears about but rarely sees.  Perhaps that’s precisely why James Macdonald rose to the challenge of staging it. Macdonald, who has directed fine productions of difficult works by Sarah Kane (4:46 Psychosis) and Caryl Churchill (A Number), among many others, first mounted the Ibsen play last year at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin. The cast he assembled there and brought over to New York could scarcely be bettered.”

You can read the entire review online here. What I didn’t mention in the review is that two-thirds of the way through act one, during an intense scene between Alan Rickman in the title role and Lindsay Duncan as his former lover and sister-in-law, a man in the second row fainted. Stage managers and volunteer physicians started swarming around him until Rickman finally said, “We need to stop. Someone is ill,” and ushered Duncan offstage. The lights came up, and once the man was revived, his entire party left the theater. When the play resumed, Rickman launched back into the scene full-throttle — very impressive handling of an actor’s nightmare.


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