Molesey man brings banned Ibsen play coming to Orange Tree Theatre

Orange Tree Theatre this month presents a truly rare opportunity to see a tale that was branded immoral in Norway.

The professional premiere of Love’s Comedy, written by Henrik Ibsen and directed by David Antrobus, will be seen in Richmond.

Ibsen’s bittersweet comedy, written in 1862, tells the story of a guitar-playing young revolutionary poet, who struggles with the consequences of falling in love.

Antrobus makes his directorial debut in Loves Comedy, after appearing in more than 20 productions at the Orange Tree Theatre, including the Vaclav Havel season, Major Barbara and the Three Sisters.

Antrobus, 44, says: “The original was written in verse, so it’s charming to read, but difficult to imagine performing it on stage.”

Adding to this, Antrobus says the translator, Don Carlton, whose version he is working from, “took an imaginative approach”.

The Molesey man says: “The play is meant for a much larger cast. We tried to be as imaginative as possible. We’ve cut some of the extra characters.”

This includes pre-recording the voice of girls from the Orange Tee Youth Theatre group, to replace eight characters.

Antrobus has been working on and off at the Orange Tree Theatre since 1997 and says the team are like a family.

He says: “The loyalty of the audience is just wonderful. The actors here adore that.”

Ibsen wrote Love’s Comedy aged 34, after Peer Gynt and Brand, but anticipates key themes of his later work such as A Doll’s House, Hedda Gabler and Ghosts.

The play was not staged until 1873 because it was initially described as immoral in Ibsen’s home country, for challenging the traditional conventions of marriage.

Loves Comedy; Orange Tree Theatre, Clarence Street, Richmond, November 14 to December 15.

It shows Monday to Saturday 7.45pm; Saturday matinees 3pm (except Saturday, November 17); Thursday matinees (except November 8) 2.30pm.

ickets £11.50 to £22. Limited £5 tickets for under 26s available on Thursday eves.

Visit orangetreetheatre.co.uk or call 020 8940 3633 for tickets and information.

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