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Ban lifted on controversial Ibsen play
Henrik Ibsen in his study in 1898 Photo: National Library of Norway (Nasjonalbiblioteket)

Ban lifted on controversial Ibsen play

Dublin, 24 October 1917 - The Theatre Royal in Dublin has staged a performance of Ghosts by Henrik Ibsen, a play that had, up until recently, been banned as a ‘work unfit for presentation in a public theatre’.

It is not clear why the ban has been removed, but the promoters of the play in Dublin have delighted in advertising it as Ibsen’s ‘forbidden play’. Posters also mention, in prominent type, that adults only would be admitted.

The promoter received an added boost from the unwitting Catholic Truth Society, which in recent days condemned the production of the play in Dublin. In doing so, however, they have only served to add to the publicity and public interest.

The Theatre Royal performance was well-received by the audience, who were predominantly women, but not by Jacques, the reviewer in the Irish Independent, who questioned the qualities of the drama. He wrote that the characters presented by Ibsen in Ghosts did not ‘express life, but only an abnormal mental and physical decadence. There is not a decent man or woman in the play. They are a hideous lot.’

He concluded:

‘The theatre is a place for the clean things of life, not for the ghastly ghosts of diseased imaginations.’

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]


Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.