When attending a play adapted from a Bergman film you know you're not going to get a light domestic comedy. Sure enough this is an often harrowing look at a family beset by psychological problems; it's also far better than the somewhat similar Polar Bears, seen recently at the Donmar. Ruth Wilson is one of our more intense younger actresses, but here she is superb as Karin, beseiged by voices proclaiming a second coming but all too painfully aware and ultimately accepting of her plight. There is excellent support from Ian McElhinney and Dimitri Leonidas as her father and brother battling demons of their own and Justin Salinger as her husband watching helplessly from the sidelines. Through a Glass Darkly is not a play to be enjoyed exactly, but it offers rewards in other ways. - David Baxter
29 Jul 10
a very long slog, this one. no ambiguity, no wit, no-one you care about, everything explained to death. the dreariest of dreary quality theatre. the actors do their best with the awkward dialogue and laboured scenes, but it's a losing battle. - fred
08 Jul 10
WOS are still having trouble with this website - the review at the bottom of this page was not written in respect of this play. The wonder of theatre is two people, sat side by side, can react so differently to a play. I found this production so stilted, the acting so wooden that even the wonderful Ruth Wilson, playing the disturbed Karin, could not redeem it for me. Maybe that's my loss, but I wonder if Michael Attenborough himself wasn't lost trying to navigate his way through this bleak play? Maybe the problem was turning a film into a stage play? Anyhow, a muted response, after 90 minutes, from the often enthusiastic Almeida audience spoke volumes. - rds
08 Jul 10
Yet another film I haven’t seen ends up on stage. This time, Ingmar Bergman’s study of a family’s attempts to cope with mental illness within it.
The husband, a doctor, just tries to deal with the practical implications and consequences. The teenage brother is scared; he just isn’t mature enough to deal with it at all. The father, who is reliving what happened to his wife, has a complex bag of emotional responses that include running away, intellectual curiosity and hopelessness……and that’s it really; yet somehow, it makes for a compelling and fascinating 90 minutes. It speeds along at quite a pace in a way that draws you in without seeming rushed; it doesn’t waste words but doesn’t linger risking your attention or your patience. Michael Attenborough’s staging is simple yet atmospheric (helped by superb use of music and sound by the chap behind Kursk). The performances are all excellent and Ruth Wilson is yet again positively mesmerizing. I’m not going to analyse why I found it a very satisfying evening, I just did! - Gareth James
30 Jun 10
Whilst having the stage rights to a Bergman film may be an achievement, sadly, this wasn't worth it. Nothing is ever known about the characters so there's nothing to relate to, and so there's no emotional engagement. In Polar Bears, which dealt with a similar subject, there was a backstory to provide interest. Like some of England's performances, this is just intense 90 minutes of angst and histrionic behaviour with an inevitable conclusion... - dgr1
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