“John Gabriel Borkman is a play for master actors,” Perloff writes assuredly in her director’s note – and her cast, headed by Festival stalwarts Lucy Peacock, Seana McKenna and Scott Wentworth, certainly do their best to prove that they are exactly that…Perloff doesn’t try to bridge the gap between Ibsen’s time and ours in any way – and neither does the somewhat academic new translation from the original Norwegian by Paul Walsh. This makes the play seem simply dated …”
“…the heart of this production lies in the intrigue between Borkman’s wife Gunhild (Lucy Peacock) and her twin sister and Borkman’s former lover Ella Rentham (Seana McKenna). Gunhild and Ella are both obsessed with Erhart: he’s his mother’s reason for living, and Ella — who raised the boy through his adolescence, and who now has a terminal disease — wants him back for the last months of her life. Add in that Ella holds all the family’s financial cards and you have the setup for a battle of wills and wiles that Peacock and McKenna play out with the precise, passionate conviction that has earned them their reputations as some of Canada’s finest performers.”
Theatre-lovers should take advantage of a rare opportunity to see a fine production at the Stratford Festival of Ibsen’s fascinating second-last play John Gabriel Borkman (1896). From the point of view of the history of Western drama, the play allows viewers to see the transition of drama from the movement of Realism, for which Ibsen is best known, to that of Symbolism, which followed…The first act battle itself is a masterpiece of direction where suspicion and reticence slowly give way to bitter accusations and displays of power.
John Gabriel Borkman (Scott Wentworth) rejects love in exchange for a bank manager’s position and what he craves most of all: power. He empties his clients’ bank accounts to build a great industrial empire but he’s found out, betrayed by a man he considers a friend…Wentworth’s Borkman is power obsessed and devoid of kindness or compassion.