Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disputing Taste

The other day I finished rereading The Master Builder by Ibsen.

And then I started thinking about an off-off-Broadway production of The Master Builder, back in the 1970s. I went to see it at least 3 times. I thought that the actress playing Hilde was particularly powerful in what I saw as a difficult part. Naturally enough, I shared my enthusiasm with some friends.

Well. One of my friends passed my glowing review to Kay Nolte Smith, who had been writing drama reviews for The Objectivist. It turned out that Kay Nolte Smith wasn't too impressed with the actress playing Hilde Wangel. I was told she said that the actress was quite attractive, but wasn't actually playing the part correctly. I wasn't told what was wrong with her performance. Just... something. This was less than persuasive to me.

It's true that Jill O'Hara was quite attractive:

But the character requires more than attractiveness. She has to have something feral about her. From the play:
SOLNESS. There is rather something of the bird of prey in you.

HILDE. ...And why not a bird of prey? Why shouldn't I go a-hunting - I, as well as the rest? Carry off the prey I want - if only I can get my claws into it, and do with it as I will.
I'd say the role requires
the roar of inner fire
spiraling into the air
with hero-worshiping flair.

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