Former Doctor Who star Matt Smith is the obvious draw for this staging of Ibsen’s famed play, opening in February next year, but theatre cognoscenti will be equally excited by the fact it is directed by Thomas Ostermeier, the English language premiere of his astonishing German language production seen at the Barbican in 2014. The story tells of Doctor Stockmann, who lives in a Norwegian town that is dependent on its spa for its prosperity, who discovers the water is contaminated. Ibsen’s scenario inspired the opening sections of Jaws—should the beach be closed because of killer sharks or not? Is Stockmann an admirable whistleblower or a destroyer of people’s livelihoods? Ostermeier uses it as an opportunity to explore our relationships with each other, the social contracts that bind us together, and what happens when we put money above all else.
Doubt spreads like wildfire in Isben’s thought-provoking play An Enemy of the People. This impactful piece is a social commentary on the idea of truth within a society that craves power and wealth. When Dr Stockmann discovers that the water of a nearby and wildly popular tourist bath contains dangerous and bacterial properties, it becomes clear that the fate of a small town rests in his hands. However, those who stand to lose the most are unwilling to accept his claims and meet him with resistance and opposition. Conflict extends beyond contaminated water in this contemporary and timely production by Ostermeier, which aims to break down barriers and remind us why the struggle between social classes is ever-present.