Scenes from a Marriage

Sir Trevor Nunn directs his wife Imogen Stubbs in the part of Marianne. The part of Johan is acted by Iain Glen.

Scenes from a Marriage

Sir Trevor Nunn directs his wife Imogen Stubbs in the part of Marianne. The part of Johan is acted by Iain Glen.

Belgrade Theatre
Coventry

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The interest in what Sir Trevor Nunn might have achieved with Scenes from a Marriage was indeed vast. Almost all important London papers were attending the performance of the press night. The reception was mostly positive and especially the actors gained much praise.

Independent's Lynne Walker wrote the following about the performance of Imogen Stubbs (Marianne):

"It can't be easy stepping into the shoes of such a consummate psychological actress as Ullman [sic] but Stubbs continually defies clichéd expectation.
Her face is more expressive than Ullman's, reacting almost instinctively to each critical moment as well as the many incidental events in between. From her self-deprecatory answers in the glossy magazine interview which introduces us to this cul-de-sac of a marriage, through each shocking revelation and bitter recrimination to the unexpectedly moving outcome, Stubbs paces her performance with infinite care."

She continued: "Stubbs is well matched by Iain Glen as her marriage partner, Johan. In many ways Glen's is the harder role as we struggle to understand Johan's ridiculous posturing and emotional detachment. The character's callous exterior and patronising attitude make you flinch, cringe and suck in your breath in horror at his bluntness."

Peta David agreed in The Stage: "Stubbs and Glen ride an emotional roller coaster together brilliantly. They start their marriage in one place and strive to give it whole new meaning. Impressive performances and good old dig at the institution of marriage."

Charles Spencer, at Daily Telegraph, normally not a very big fan of Stubbs was also overwhelmed:

"Imogen Stubbs can occasionally be tiresomely cute, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, approaching her roles like a picturesque squirrel nibbling contentedly on a nut. Here she digs deeper, dares more, uncovering the insecurity of an apparently happy woman, and the desperate sense of abandonment when her husband announces that he is leaving her and she pitifully begs him to stay. But there are moments of mischief, wit and sexual empowerment, too, and I found myself a little in love with her by the end!"

According to Spencer, Glen was not far after Stubbs: "Iain Glen brilliantly nails his character's insufferable vanity in the opening scene and his many subsequent cruelties. He also captures both gnawing sexual discontent and the way that old sparks of desire never quite die, in a brave performance that never seeks the audience's sympathy in its exploration of the dark side of the male psyche. There is strong support, too, from Dominic Jephcott and Tilly Blackwood as an even more miserable, yet blackly comic, married couple."

In Birmingham Post Terry Grimley wrote that the performances of Iain Glen and Imogen Stubbs, "are of the quality that audiences travel miles for".

Ian Shuttleworth in Financial Times was most impressed by Glen: "Glen is excellent at being not quite there emotionally; when Johan belatedly discovers a heart (thanks to a 23-year-old mistress), Glen plays him as at once fascinated and overjoyed, yet not really knowing how to 'do' joy or passion."

"He thought that Stubb's Marianne, gave "a performance that is lucid but, if anything, too clear. Stubbs' acting is much more transparent than original Marianne Liv Ullmann, who was far more accomplished at ulteriority."

Less pleased was Variety's David Benedict who missed the cinematography of Bergman's version: "Without a camera closing in on them at crunch points to amplify the extraordinarily subtle performance detail, director Trevor Nunn's stage actors are forced to emote and (over)explain. Stubbs suffers most as her character is more of a victim. Her strongest scene gains from nicely controlled underplaying. Her character's circumstances -- she's in a hospital bed after an abortion -- do much of the work for her, leaving her simply to embody Marianne's pain. Elsewhere, she's led into over-eagerness as she illustrates Marianne's neediness and confusion."

Images/video

Collaborators

  • Ingmar Bergman, Author
  • Joanna Murray-Smith, Adaptation
  • Trevor Nunn, Director
  • Robert Jones, Designer
  • Paul Pryant, Lighting design
  • Martyn Davies, Sound
  • Terry King, Choreography
  • Joanna Scotcher, Costume design
  • Maria Aberg, Translation
  • Steve Cressy, Master carpenter
  • Richard Watson, Master carpenter
  • Louise Bann, Stage technician
  • Tilly Stokes, Stage technician
  • Imogen Stubbs, Marianne
  • Iain Glen, Johan
  • Dominic Jephcott, Peter/Arne
  • Tilly Blackwood, Katarina/Eva
  • DeNica Fairman, Fru Palm/Fru Jacobi

Scenes from a Marriage