The Wild Duck is a great play, to be sure make no mistake about that. But this production is a remarkably tedious one.
The performances appear sapped of nearly all emotions. Dialogue is reduced to a haze of muttering voices that can easily be drowned out by the hiss of a teakettle or background chatter. It's as though the actors are simply reading their lines without bothering to invest any passion into them. In this way important points and revelations slide by like off-hand comments and as such have little impact. So bored and droll is the delivery of most of the cast that they might as well be making idle chitchat over tea. Even at the end when a tragedy of tragedies has occurred and one would expect the character of Hjalmar Ekdal to sob, convulse, at least do SOMETHING close to human all Denholm Elliott can muster is a listless recitation of his lines that leaves the viewers coldly detached from the action. If the actors don't seem to care about what they are saying, why then should the audience?
One exception, as other reviewers have commented, is the young Jenny Agutter who manages a performance as Hedvig Ekdal that is agonizing, wrenching, and true. Amongst a horde of zombie-like, apparently disinterested figures she shines with a special spark. Alas, one player is not enough to carry the entire presentation on her shoulders. Overall, this version of The Wild Duck remains lackluster. Henrik Ibsen's play deserves better than this.
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