An Odd Wild Duck

the court theatre’s tragi-farcical take on Ibsen.

If you take the delusion from an ordinary man then you take away his happiness as well. – Relling


Laura Scheinbaum as Hedwig in Court Theatre’s The Wild Duck

Director Charles Newell and the Court Theatre ensemble created an unusual version of The Wild Duck in their recent production, which was based on a new translation of Ibsen’s drama by Richard Nelson. As the histories of two families come careening into each other, the actors overplayed their obsessions, drives, and the painful stripping away of delusions at the core of the play.

Whereas one might have the actors suck in all the dark energies so as to build to a seething, tense conclusion, in Court Theatre’s version, the parts were so overweening that they turned the tragedy into comedy. Which only, amazingly, made the tragedy that much more wincingly, outlandishly painful.

In this way, the version of the play did not allow one to identify with the characters so much as to stare at them in shock — an intriguing way of getting at Ibsen’s moody exploration of how important the delusions we live with might actually be.

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