Review: Public Enemy, Young Vic

Another stupendous revival at the Young Vic. It is almost impossible to believe that Ibsen’s play (usually translated as Enemy of the People) was written in 1882. The issues are very much of today – a troubleshooter discovering an environmental issue that threatens to disrupt the local economy, an attempted cover-up, the manipulation of share prices, the role of the media. Other issues, such as the tension between family ties and professional duty, are eternal. David Harrower’s new version of the play carries it forward at a cracking pace – 95 minutes straight through with no interval.

Rather than bring it completely up to date, the production is wisely set in 1970s Norway – recent enough to keep it relevant to today but long enough ago that the local newspaper and public meetings are still dominant forms of communication. Rather than the Young Vic’s usual layout, the seats face the stage which spreads across the width of the theatre. This means much neck-twisting if you are sitting at the end of row B like me but it was well worth the discomfort.

Sorry it’s a short, sketchy review – I’m off the ROH this afternoon and rished to let you know about the Time Out half price ticket offer to this. Extremely good value – I can’t imagine why it hasn’t already sold out – I’d say grab them while you can!


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