Ill Morrison Withdraws from NT's Peer GyntDate: 30 October 2000
After serious delays, the National Theatre's production of Henrik Ibsen's Peer Gynt was dealt a new blow this past week when director Conall Morrison withdrew from the project. NT artistic director Trevor Nunn has had to take over handling of the production, which is still in previews.
Peer Gynt, performed by the NT's in-house ensemble company, was originally scheduled to open on 24 October, but was delayed last month, with a new opening night confirmed for three weeks later on 13 November. Previews were rescheduled to begin from 20 October, with performances on 16, 17, 18 and 19 October cancelled.
The change of schedule was, said the National at the time, 'due to the enforced delay in the opening of Romeo and Juliet, which impacts on the rehearsal schedule for Peer Gynt'. Romeo and Juliet, another NT Ensemble production, also suffered a late opening due to problems with its director, Tim Supple. It was reported that, as with Peer Gynt, Nunn had to come in during the closing rehearsals to rescue Romeo and Juliet as well, which was, nevertheless, poorly received by the critics when it finally opened last month.
New rumours that frictions between Morrison and the NT Ensemble cast resulted in his sacking from Peer Gynt were rejected by an NT spokesperson who said that the young director was, in fact, ill and forced to return home to Ireland on medical advice. Morrison is also meant to be directing JM Synge's The Playboy of the Western World, which is due to open at the NT Cottesloe in February 2001. It's unclear what will now happen with that production.
Morrison is considered one of Ireland's most talented directors. Two of his productions for Dublin's Abbey Theatre have previously transferred with success to the NT's Lyttelton Theatre - the award-winning Tarry Flynn in 1998 and The Colleen Bawn last year. He also directed the West Yorkshire Playhouse's reworking of Martin Guerre in Leeds as well as, in Ireland, Conquest of the South Pole, Measure for Measure, The Marlboro Man and Emma. His playwriting credits include Green, Orange and Pink, Rough Justice and Hard to Believe.
Peer Gynt, in a new version by Frank McGuinness, tells the tale of the journeys of an innocent young man. It stars Sorcha Cusack, Jeff Diamond, Annie Farr, Olwen Fouere, Patrick O'Kane, Ronald Pickup, Anthony Renshaw and Adrian Sarple.