A scandalous piece that should appeal to a modern audience
The role of Tom Stockmann, conventionally, is given to a man. However, this part is handled capably by Seren Vickers, who instills her own sense of morality and purpose into the role. Editor of the local paper, Hovstad, is also played by a woman, which introduces the themes of sexism is the workplace and gender roles in modern society. As Stockmann feuds with her brother, the mayor of the town, over the issue with the springs, her moral compass goes slightly askew, and we are led to question how staunch her views are, and if she merely wants to overthrow her brother out of jealousy.
The staging of this adds yet another dimension to the piece. Set inside of a box, with the rest of the cast menacingly watching whichever scenes they are not a part of, there is a sense of unease, as though we are merely eavesdropping on private conversations. As pandemonium builds and scandalous whispers reach the ears of the townspeople, this piece takes on a whole new life, with lighting and sound playing an important role in creating this atmosphere of discontent. However, at times the intensity of the tech can drown out the action onstage, and we strain to hear what is going on. Also, some action seems rushed, with subplots seeming slightly unpolished compared to the main action.
Overall, this is a courageous, engaging and powerful performance. The young cast, in plain view of the audience at all times, create the sensation of being watched. By the end, you’ll wonder which character is the ‘enemy of the people’ whom Ibsen originally referenced.