Two Chicago theaters, A Red Orchid in February and the Goodman in March, are offering their adaptations of 19th century Norwegian Playwright Henrik Ibsen’s play, ‘Enemy of the People,’ which focuses on several of today’s hottest issues: politics and the business v environment debate with a nod to the Trump presidency and the Flint, Michigan, and East Chicago, Indiana, lead contamination problems.
The play takes place in a small town in Norway. The town has been beset by economic problems, but it has recently built a public health spa using water from a spring that originates in an area where a factory has closed down. A doctor, Tom Stockton, discovers that the spa is contaminated with harmful bacteria and asks his brother, the Mayor, to close the spa until it can be remediated. The brother refuses, claiming that to do so will send the town into economic ruin. By threatening the newspaper editor and the Town Council with the demise of the town if news of the spa’s contamination gets out, the Mayor is able to keep the problem a secret. In the end, Tom, ostracized by the town, is declared an ‘enemy of the people.’ He has ruined his family and, refusing to leave town, he vows to fight on, ALONE.
Ibsen is said to have written this play as a revenge for the poor reception he received for his play, ‘Ghosts,’ which is about syphilis.
For a discussion of the theme, see my blog for March 14. For a summary of the play, see my blog for March 13. For a report on a discussion between Brett Neveu, playwright for A Red Orchid's "Traitor," and Robert Falls, playwright for Goodman's "Enemy." see my blog for March 13.