Seen last year at the Royal Dramatic Theatre of Sweden, Bergman's version is a radical take on Ibsen's dark tragedy about a mother-son relationship. The original was extremely controversial when it premiered in 1881. Bergman's production is performed in Swedish with surtitles.
The director is best known in this country for his celebrated films, which include Fanny and Alexander and Wild Strawberries. However, in his native country, he's known equally for his stage work. He started his career as one of Europe's youngest theatre manager and has regularly worked across both mediums since the 1940s.
Bergman turns 85 this summer and has said this will be his swansong production, though his previous retirement from the stage - in 1995 - lasted just three months. At the Barbican, Ghosts runs as part of the sixth annual BITE (the Barbican International Theatre Events) and is presented in association with producer Thelma Holt.
BITE was born with the Royal Shakespeare Company's partial withdrawal from the Barbican in 1997, when their annual residency was cut to six winter months only. Since then BITE has welcomed international companies for the spring and summer months. But due to the RSC's full withdrawal in May 2002 (see News, 15 May 2002), BITE has been extended to run throughout the year.
- by Terri Paddock