The Old Vic
The first act was a slow, pleasant introduction to the Ekdahl family. It is Christmas time and the family are living almost entirely harmoniously up until his father dies without warning. The second act took the most unexpected of turns and ventured as far away from the gaiety of the first act as you could possibly imagine. I confess to not knowing anything about the film nor Ingmar Bergman before watching this production. So the second act, putting into play some of Bergman's darker themes including existentialism and the supernatural, was rather a surprise. I think that not having any prior knowledge is definitely a bonus - not knowing what is just around the corner is really exciting.
It was about Alexander and his new life with his stepfather the Bishop, who his mother had married after the death of her husband. The Bishop was a sadistic bully, intent on punishing Alexander for his overactive imagination and constant lying. I don't want to give away the story, but I can honestly say that I was petrified. I have never been more invested in a play and concerned with the wellbeing of the characters - I was actually whispering to Alexander, urging him not to do this or to do that. I was totally transfixed by the action on stage.
The performances from the whole cast were top class and Penelope Wilton was outstanding as the loving Grandma. Guillermo Bedward did a fantastic job as Alexander to make the role entirely credible.
There is something for everyone in this production; horror, surprisingly laugh out loud humour, wonderful acting and even a bit of festive singing and dancing. Undeniably it is long, so if you're not a night owl then maybe it would be better to go to a matinee. But do not let the length put you off. Personally, I cannot think of a better reason to stay up so late!