Last night Stuart and I went to see a new production of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's 1884 tragicomedy masterpiece The Wild Duck at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.
Directed by Robert Icke and designed by Bunny Christie the production is a new version, and nothing less than a new take on the concept of "the truth."
At the start, the stage is well lit but empty. Kevin Harvey, one of the actors, comes out. "Turn your phones off. Turn them off now," he says. People check their phones. "They only tell you lies."
So starts just over two hours of a meta / post-modern take on an odd story of two friends and their complex relationship with the truth.
Kevin Harvey plays one of the friends, Gregers, the son of Håkon (Nicholas Day). Edward Hogg plays the other, Hjalmar, son of Ekdal (Nicholas Farrell.)
Hjalmar's wife Gina (Lyndsey Marshal) used to work for Håkon and she lives along with her husband and daughter Hedvig (played tonight by Grace Doherty) in a house paid for by Håkon. In fact, Håkon seems to be paying money to Ekdal too. And to Gina. Håkon looms large over their entire family. And Gregers will stop at nothing to get the truth behind his father's deception. Nothing.
At the start, the actors frequently break out of their on-stage roles using a handheld microphone. As the action progresses though this theatrical device is gradually undermined as the other characters start to realise what is going on and characters start to interact with the actors playing them.
It is a fun trick and helps to bring the piece alive. The actors finally stop pretending to be characters and end up speaking directly to the audience. What is truth and what is lies?
But, what price truth? A high one as it turns out.