En Folkefiende

Henrik Ibsen in a new version by Brad Birch

SQUINT

Pleasance Dome

From 03 August 2016 to 28 August 2016

Rating: ****

Review by Philip Fisher

For those less than fluent in Norwegian, En Folkefiende is the original name of Enemy of the People.

Brad Birch has written a radical updated interpretation of Ibsen's classic, made popular in recent years by the advent of ecology as a pop fad.

Not only has Tom Stockman changed gender but the underlying story has been rewritten to appeal to a generation brought up to believe in instant gratification.

The staging, in a box, flashes along under the direction of Andrew Whyment. It looks like a TV or movie thriller, with loud music and computer-generated images interpolated, particularly to silence any scene in which Stockman's discovery is mentioned, thereby diluting the eco appeal.

Instead, the focus becomes even more personal. Seren Vickers's Tom is a scientist with strong moral and ethical beliefs.

When she discovers something wrong in the local spring, her instinct is to publish a scandalous story in her newspaper column. Editor Hovstad, played by Eva-Jane Willis, is excited at the scoop.

However, politics and finance impinge, primarily in the form of Stockman's brother, the Mayor, and his associate, the paper's owner Aslaksen, respectively Connor Vickery and Rhys Whomsley. The consequence is outrage followed by cover-up and something close to blackmail.

The young company sometimes seems out of its depth, while certain elements of plot are swallowed, possibly in an effort to fit the Edinburgh running time of around 80 minutes.

In summary, this is a brave and highly entertaining venture that needs more work before it hits its peak.