(the fall of) The Master Builder is certainly one to make a note of. This emotional rollercoaster of a production brings to light the struggles of the man of the hour and Master Builder UK, Halvard Solness (Reece Dinsindale) and the dark past threatening to destroy his seemingly perfect life.
The show follows Solness after he receives the Master Builder award for his contributions to architecture, allowing us an insight into his lavish lifestyle with his own law firm and everything he could want – on the surface. But throughout we begin to see a darker side to this ‘perfect life’; the failing marriage, the colleagues desperate to move up in the world. After the arrival of Hilde (Katherine Rose Morley) claiming to be a student and fan of his work, Solness is thrown off by her sudden advances. But when she reveals she is a former flame of his – from 5 years ago, when he was in his 50s and she just 15 – it becomes very apparent that what goes up can only ever go down.
Dealing with some very intimate, and at times, upsetting topics can cause difficulties when working in theatre, as the portrayal of particular emotions and events have to err on the side of caution for fear of causing upset. The particular themes addressed in (the fall of) The Master Builder include some taboo subjects, such as adultery, domestic abuse and the grooming and sexual assault of minors. Admittedly, at times the production is hard to watch – but this is due to the fact that the cast portray their characters in such a realistic and true to form manner that as an audience member, you feel as though you are watching these events unfold in real life, with real people, rather than this incredible cast of actors.
Particularly worth a mention is the set – a real-to-life office set up really does create a feeling of voyeurism; of being a part of something you shouldn’t. Designer Alex Lowde has pulled out all the stops to create a set that is functional, realistic and integral to the telling of the story, creating a backdrop that moves forward with every dramatic event as a sort of scene transition. By the end of the show this creates an immense climax, with furniture and lighting being pushed off the stage and creating noise and mess to unsettle the minds of the audience. Paired with the casts’ readings of police files from previous assaults and the possibility of impending suicide, you really couldn’t ask for more of a crescendo.
All in all, this really is one show that packs a punch and if you’re looking for drama, this really is one you just can’t miss. 5/5
Review written by Hazel Hinchcliffe.
(the fall of) The Master Builder will show at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from Tuesday 10th until Saturday 21st October 2017. For more information on the production, visit here…