Director Brian Richmond (centre) gives guidance to actors Amanda Lisman (Hilde) and David Ferry (Halvard Solness) in rehearsals for The Master Builder, Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s next production, opening May 28 at the Roxy Theatre. Photo by Rebekah Johnson

REVIEW: Dark but not Gloomy – Blue Bridge’s The Master Builder

By Sheila Martindale

Sometimes the thing you dread most can appear suddenly as wonderfully attractive. What you felt was a threat to your career and personal happiness comes as an invigorating surprise.

In Ibsen’s brilliant play The Master Builder, showing at Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre until June 9, accomplished architect Halvard Solness is doing everything to prevent his apprentice from catching him up and overtaking him, because he knows how good Ragmar is. Meanwhile, a vibrant young woman he met 10 years previously, comes into his life like a hurricane, and over the course of three acts, completely changes his perspective. It amounts to the same thing – the young pushing the older away to make room.

David Ferry and Amanda Lisman portray these two characters with passion and aplomb; the play holds our attention riveted for almost three hours (yes, be prepared for a late night if you go!) Solness’ wife is played by Jan Wood, who manages this complex role beautifully. There are hints of instability – one wonders why she grieved more over her lost dolls in a house fire, than and over her children who died due to contaminated milk. The other characters in the play are all minor, but essential to the plot. The entire cast works as a whole, resulting in a dynamic, seamless production.

There is nothing light about Henrik Ibsen, writing in the last half of the 19th century, with his Scandinavian background featuring long dark nights and a cold climate. As always, his plays leave us with more questions than answers – therein lies his skill. Director Brian Richmond is talented in the direction of ‘dark’ and always gives us meaty and thought-provoking pieces of theatre. The Master Builder is definitely among his best.

You should definitely go. For tickets and information go to bluebridgetheatre.ca or call 250-382-3370.

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