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Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts at Melville Theatre

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Ghosts of the past create drama in classic play
Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic
Natalie Burbage as Helen Alving in Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts. Picture: David Cox

A family connection has led to the production of a classic play by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen at Melville Theatre. Belvoir St Theatre artistic director Eamon Flack adapted Ibsen's Ghosts for a 2017 Sydney production and now his second cousin Thomas Dimmick is directing the show in Perth.

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic
Jacob Engstrand (Zane Alexander, right) with his daughter Regine (Connie Wetherilt) in Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts. Picture: David Cox


Regarded as a scathing commentary on 19th-century morality, Ghosts is the story of Helene Alving who is about to open an orphanage in her late husband's name. Her maid Regine is helping to prepare things, Regine's carpenter father has been working on the building and Pastor Manders is organising the paperwork. At the same time, Helene's son has also come back from Paris for the occasion.
Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic
Helen Alving (Natalie Burbage, left) with her son Osvald (Felix Malcolm) in Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts. Picture: David Cox

"These five characters have a number of intersecting relationships and, over the course of a single day, we see many truths come to light and some honesty between them all," Thomas said. "Ghosts is a show about the effects left behind after someone is gone, so don't expect any real spirits to appear.

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic
Osvald Alving (Felix Malcolm, left) with his mother's maid, Regine Engstrand (Connie Wetherilt). Picture: David Cox

"The biggest challenge is maintaining the authenticity of the story. Each of the five characters has distinct motivations and deep histories to get across in a short amount of time but so much of it is in the subtext, which can be difficult to find at times."

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic
Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts features Natalie Burbage, left, as Helen Alving and Grant Malcolm as Pastor Manders. Picture: David Cox

Involved in theatre for several years, Thomas has written, directed and produced shows at Fringe World with Black Martini Productions and has also been involved with the Graduate Dramatic Society, Kelete Studios and the Old Mill, Tempest, Harbour, Art in Motion and Melville Theatres. He has received several awards and nominations for roles in William Shakespeare's Long Lost First Play (Abridged), Les Miserables, Present Laughter, A View From The Bridge and Camelot.

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic
Grant Malcolm as Pastor Manders. Picture: David Cox

"When Melville Theatre asked if I would submit a show for consideration I went looking and, when I found my second cousin had adapted Ghosts, that connection inspired me to read the script," Thomas said. "I was immediately taken to the story and the language every character has a complex journey and clearly has a view on everything that has happened.

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic
Felix Malcolm as Osvald Alving (yes, he is related to Grant. His son, in fact). Picture: David Cox

"No one character is wrong about what happened; they just have their own interpretation. My favourite kind of theatre is where you simply have characters talking in the same space. You can get so much from simple conversations that come from characters with history."

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic
Connie Wetherilt as maid Regine Engstrand. Picture: David Cox

Henrik Ibsen's Ghosts plays at 8pm August 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 with a 2pm matinee August 14. Tickets are $23, $18 concession book at www.TAZTix.com.au. Note: the show contains adult themes. Melville Theatre is at 393A Canning Highway (corner of Stock Road), Palmyra.

Henrik Ibsen, Ghosts, Melville Theatre, performing arts, stage, actor, Norwegian, drama, classic

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Why? This is a chance to see a true classic; a play that caused a scandal when first performed in 1882 with many of its concepts still relevant today.
Where: Melville Theatre, 393A Canning Highway, Palmyra
Cost: $23, $18 concession
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