Theatre at UBC

The Lady from the Sea

By Henrik Ibsen
Adapted by Bryan Wade

Venue: Telus Theatre, UBC
Dates: 17 - 27 March 2004

Reviewer: Jane Penistan



Director John Cooper Costume design Stephanie Carter Set and Lighting design Ronald Fedoruk Sound design Daryl Ritchot Stage manager Cat George




The lighthouse

This adaptation of Ibsen's The Lady from the Sea by Bryan Wade updates the play from its original time and place to 1968 British Columbia. There are no adapter's or director's notes in the programme to inform the audience about this production. The 19th century attitude regarding the status of married women is updated to the years of "women's lib" in the 20th century, and much of the argument about the marital rights of men and women in the original writing is no longer relevant.

Setting this work in the late 1960s in British Columbia, in an isolated small town up a central coast inlet parallels the fjord urban enclave of Ibsen's Norwegian setting, and puts the new version in the age of hippies and women's lib.

Ron Fedoruk's set running the length of the Telus theatre acting area, with its towering rock formation at one end, and the audience lined up on either side or in the balconies, produces the enclosing effect of a long, narrow, rocky channel. The cast is very well dressed. All the costumes are appropriate to the characters and the colours pleasing. This is particularly so in the case of Ellida Seton, the lady from the sea, whose beautiful blue, green or sea green dresses are designed to reflect her love of the sea, and draped to suggest a mermaid. Robin Mooney, who plays Ellida, moves gracefully in these silky clothes.

Sarah Brown and Anastasia Filipczuk as the sisters, Elizabeth and Cecilia Seton, play well together, with Elizabeth


always the caring and responsible older sister and Cecilia with all the gaucheries and still childish brashness of a troubled teenager. Tory Coombs has a nice youthful charm as the student peripatetic photographer Ralph Gillies.

Joel Redmond suffers from having to appear as an older man, an experienced doctor and father of two nearly grown up daughters. As Doctor Seton, he has difficulty in being of the parent generation. Wisely, he does not try to disguise his youth with make up, but a little more attention to movement and voice work might help establish his authority and status in both his family and the community. He is at his best in his encounters with Kerry Allchin, who is more successful in acquiring some maturity as George Winlaw. He has warmth and sympathy, and his acquired wisdom is believable.

Robin Mooney manages to keep an air of mystery about her, and unpredictability, as the role requires. This is a good student performance. Mike Waterman, as Edmund Freeman, in his short scenes, succeeds in establishing a steadfast and honest character. Johannah Khalema is Thorkelson, the hippie artist, band leader and local barber.

The Lady from the Sea as Ibsen wrote it may not be relevant today, but his sympathy and passionate appeal for the emancipation of women are still manifest. In the original script, once Ellida is free, she has no doubt as to whom she will be wife. It is the freedom of the permissive generation that this adaptation demonstrates.

The Lady from the Sea runs at the Telus Theatre, UBC, 17 - 27 March, 2004, Monday through Saturday at 7.30 p.m. For information, reservations and tickets contact the Box Office at 604-622-226-2678 or visit

2004, Jane Penistan