See the serious look on Mr. Ibsen's face over there on the left? That's about how Hubby looked when the UMKC production of Peer Gynt started Sunday afternoon. Twenty minutes later Hubby's head was tilted back and his mouth was wide open -- the only good thing was that he wasn't snoring. A couple of well-placed pokes were called for periodically to keep him from embarrassing the family during the production.
It was a glorious play, not-withstanding Hubby's sleeping during the first act. The Repertory Theater at UMKC (University of Missouri at Kansas City) had updated and scaled down the original Ibsen work that during Ibsen's lifetime was deemed unstageable. Instead of producing all five acts with 50+ actors and the entire play spoken in verse and five hours in running time, UMKC had the foresight to use only five actors -- and Peer Gynt himself was a rotating role -- with only two acts and a two+ hour running time. We had been advised from the beginning not to try and make symbolic sense of the action but just enjoy the ribald beauty and sly use of humor for the play. Updates included modern language and topical humor. Half the audience was in bewilderment while the other half was in heaven. About half the audience left at intermission. The other half gave a standing ovation at the end of the play. I was part of the ovation crowd -- Hubby kind of just coasted along. During the second act he got more into the humor of the play.
Give Hubby credit. He knew what he was in for before we went to the show, he knew he was attending with a lover of symbolism and irony and he came along for the ride. It may have been a modernized version of the 1850's play but I can now count myself one of the few people who has actually seen a production of Peer Gynt. And I loved it!