In 1882, Norwegian playwright Henry Ibsen wrote AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE in response to the incensed public outcry received by his previous play, GHOSTS, in which he challenged the hypocrisy of 19th century morality. In AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE Ibsen tells the story of a man who dares to tell the truth, just to get chastised by everyone around him.

Now, Theatricum Botanicum is presenting a freely adapted version of the play, by Ellen Geer, that moves the story to South Carolina in 1980, therefore adding to the tale themes like race, mixed marriage, the bias of the press, and nationalism.

A first, non-Ibsen, scene places the story in a “white power” rally, where the “N” word is heard multiple times. The second scene then introduces Ibsen’s dialogue. Christopher Jones plays the part of Dr. Tom Stockman. His performance must be admired, as his character gives long-winded speeches that can’t possibly be easy to memorize. Katherine Griffith plays Mildred, taking the place of Ibsen’s original character named Peter Stockmann. Mildred is the Mayor of the town, whose main interest is money rather than public safety. Max Lawrence plays Horatio (who in Ibsen’s original was Hovstad), a journalist who easily represents today’s biased press and its reporting of that which it finds convenient. Collaborating with another 19 actors, these main characters deliver a story that is thought-provoking and relevant even 137 years after it was written.

An Enemy of the People
Ken Ivy, Steven C. Fisher, Christopher W. Jones, Constance Jewell Lopez, Joelle Lewis, Earnestine Phillips and Joseph Iwunze / Photo by Kevin Hudnell

 

AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE is about 2 hours and 15 minutes long, with an intermission. The dialogue is as easy to follow as its message is clear – the insistent search for the mighty dollar, the compulsion to fulfill personal interests without considering the welfare of others, and society’s nerve to punish and ignore those who speak up, are all actual enemies of the people.

The play is directed by Ellen Geer and Melora Marshall and it will perform in repertory through Sept. 28. You can see it tomorrow Sunday, July 14, at 8 pm, and may want to consider the following special dates:

Friday, Aug. 16, at 8 pm – Pay What You Will night;

Sunday, Sept. 8, at 3 pm – the play preceded by a discussion with the actors.

Regular admission starts at $26. Tickets are available online here or by calling (310) 455 – 3723.

The Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum is located at 1419 N. Topanga Canyon Blvd, in Topanga CA 90290. This is a perfect place to cool off during the hot summer days. In fact, bring a sweater; it may get chilly during the evening performances. No fancy clothing is needed. You are also welcomed to bring a picnic to enjoy before the performance.

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