Programme Catalogue - Details: 1990050419900504

04 May 1990

Producer: J. TYDEMAN

Next in series: SOUND ARCHIVE

Previous in series: SOUND ARCHIVE


By Henrik IBSEN. New translation by David RUDKIN.

Subject Categories

drama programmes (genre)

Broadcast history

04 May 1990 19:30-22:00 (RADIO 3)


Nigel Anthony (Actor)

Mary Wimbush (Actor)

Charles Kay (Actor)

Michael Gough (Actor)

Lindsay Duncan (Actor)

Edward Petherbridge (Actor)

Henrik Ibsen (Author)

John Tydeman (Producer)

David Rudkin (tr)

Recorded on 1989-11-27

Programme Catalogue - Station

Radio 3


Rebekka West, the visionary, passionate heroine of 'Rosmersholm' inspired the English novelist to adopt that name. Ibsen's most complex play sees a society in turmoil through the lens of pastor John Rosmer and Rebekka, his social-revolutionary companion. Rosmer is recovering from the suicide of his unstable wife, Beata. Now Rebekka, replacing her in his affections, urges him to surrender his privileged place in conservative Norwegian society. A local elite plot to make him hold to the status quo. Can Rebekka prevail? Translated by Frank McGuinness and featuring music by Norwegian composer Marius Munthe-Kaas.

Music composed and arranged by Marius Munthe-Kaas

Music supervisor, Giles Perring

Gro Hole Austgulen (violin), Elin Kleppa Michalsen (violin), Anna Cecilia Johansson (viola), Olav Stener Olsen (cello)

Translated by Frank McGuinness

'Rosmersholm' premiered at the National Theatre, London, in 1987.


Frank McGuinness's translation, unperformed since 1985, is a superb rendition of the Norwegian into fluent, everyday English, whilst keeping the poetic flavour of the original.

Ibsen's almost experimental play delves into areas of political upheaval and sexual mores that were ground-breaking to Norwegian audiences in 1886. Rosmer's wife's (apparently) inexplicable suicide has helped seal the lapsed pastor's affection for Rebekka - and her revolutionary worldview also. This is a play of ideas. And of surprises: Rosmer's almost asexual celebacy, the visionary Brendel's blood-lust, the ideologue Mortensgaard's crude opportunism. And that's not to mention the many-stepped discoveries we'll make about Rebekka, another truly three-dimensional proto-feminist figure from the hugely influential playwright.

This in-house production for Radio 3 features the work of a young composer little known in Britain, Marius Munthe-Kaas, and fellow-Norwegian chamber musicians.

Replacing the action of the earlier plays, the plot twists and turns here are based on dramatic revelations made about Rebekka and all the characters. The drama, set on a promontory surrounded on all sides by the weir in which Mrs Rosmer died, develops on new realisations and moral shadings that, kaleidoscope-like, throw each of the dramatis personae into new relief with each new scene. There are no easy moral judgements to be made about any of us, Ibsen seems to be saying; although finally his disapproval does seem to be aimed at the corrupt, self-serving elite who offer little chance of escape to our lovers.