When telly was black and white my mother and I first tasted Ibsen with The Master Builder. The play wasn’t well served by a rolling eyes/vowels actor from the Wolfit school, possibly Sir Donald himself. After half an hour we learned that to celebrate house completions the master builder traditionally climbs on to the roof and does something symbolic.
My mother said gloomily, “He’s going to fall off, isn’t he? It’s that kind of play.” A nod being as good as a wink I turned off the telly. BTW, he does.
For years I didn’t try to stop this gap. When, reluctantly, I decided I was now grown-up and all grown-ups had at least seen Hedda Gabler, Ibsen seemed to disappear from our domestic screens, possibly when colour was introduced. Norwegian drama doesn’t profit from reds and yellows.
This Christmas VR and I are doing the decent thing. At considerable expense I’ve acquired DVDs of Hedda, The Doll’s House and – erm - Uncle Vanya. Yes I now know Uncle is not Ibsen. Make do and mend, I say.
To compensate we will also re-watch Bunuel’s surreal The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie. I first saw it with Joe but under strained circumstances. We’d sunk three pints each beforehand and missed some significant passages. I remember laughing a lot, as did Joe. I’m less confident about Hedda.
Florence said, “Perhaps I’d passed my sell-by date as a spouse. Just two years of marriage. I did have this secret belief that I didn’t deserve it, that I might have used up my wifeliness in a succession of beds west of London. That was all nearly ten years ago and I’m probably cured by now. But you must promise if I start prying; living your life vicariously.”