Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Scottish "Enemy" in 1980

It’s the first Saturday after opening. Time to do the laundry, clean the dishes, and clean the apartment. I pop in a DVD for background noise. It’s a BBC adaptation of Enemy of the People buried in an Ibsen collection. I’ve put off watching it and it’s due back at the library soon. Turns out I’m in for a treat.

There’s Peter Stockman, speaking for a crowd in a large factory, about the board’s decision to bottle and sell the water from Scotland’s Baikie springs. As the crowd applauds, the mayors brother rolls his eyes. Then the mayor pushes a button and conveyor belt springs to life filled with bottles of poisoned spring water. As the line of bottles fills the camera the ABBA song “Money, Money, Money” starts to play on the soundtrack. I realize I’ve stumbled on a delightfully irreverent modern adaptation.

Broadcast in 1980 on the BBC, Maggie Allen’s adaptation sticks close to the structure of Ibsen’s original but steers towards comedy and rewrites the text in local dialect.

Dr. Stockman to the crowd: “Yeh kinnae be that stupid!”

Billing to Stockman: “Yer talkin’ like a bloody fascist!”

Horster to Petra: “Ach, ye kin buy spa water anywhere in the world, but
there’s very little truth on view.”

I was also pleased to see that Maggie Allen’s Stockman, like ours, considers moving to Canada. “The air is freshest and a chemist can get work!”

Red Tape Theatre’s Enemy of the People runs May 4-30, 2009
Tickets are available through our website.

Paul G. Miller
Season Dramaturge

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