Many of Henrik Ibsen’s plays centre on women characters. They show their anguish, their entrapment at times, and the love they have for their families and themselves. The Lady from the Sea, whose story will unfold on the THOC stage as of Saturday, follows this magic formula.
The drama, written in 1888, was inspired by the ballad Agnete og Havmanden (Agnete and the Mermaid). The drama introduces the character of Hilde Wangel who is again portrayed in Ibsen’s later play The Master Builder.
This symbolic play focuses on Ellida, the lighthouse-keeper’s daughter who longs for the sea. She is trapped in her marriage to Doctor Wangel, a doctor in a small town in West Norway. He has two daughters (Bolette and Hilde) by his deceased wife. He and Ellida have a son who died as a baby, which puts a big strain on their marriage. Fearing for Ellida’s mental health, Wangel invites Arnholm – Bolette’s former tutor and now the headmaster of a school – to their home in the hope that he can help his wife’s mental state. But Arnholm gets the wrong idea and thinks that he has been invited in order to peruse Bolette, to whom he proposes. She agrees to marry him because she sees this as her only opportunity to get out into the world.
Now back to the lady from the sea, Ellida. A former lover of hers shows up all these years later to claim her love. The mermaid-like lady then has to choose between her duty to her husband and her attraction to a mysterious, sea-loving sailor. Perhaps this long-lost lover will help the lady from the sea put some spark back into her marriage, or maybe he will take her away and sail the seven seas with her. It remains to be seen.
The play, which is directed by the German director Heinz-Uwe Haus, is in Greek but the performance on December 8 will be with English and Turkish subtitles.
The Lady from the Sea
Performance of the play by Henrik Ibsen. November 11 until December 30. THOC, Nicosia. 8.30pm and 6pm on Sundays. €6/12. Tel: 77-772717