The most influential and accomplished artist of all time Ernst Ingmar Bergman’s Oscar winning movie “Through a Glass Darkly” has been adapted for the stage and is now at Almeida Theatre starring Ruth Wilson. The play will be shown until 31st July 2010.
Through A Glass Darkly is based on a schizophrenic young woman Karin (Ruth Wilson) ‘s unbearable anguish in search of God and love and her fragilely tied family’s effort to help her fight on the first day of their vacation in a Swedish Island. Bergman analyses the characters and exposes their pain in the 24 hours time period and makes audiences restless in their seats.
Karin lives for her family, even little things like an argument between her father and brother keeps her awake all night and she hears voices and follows them to get her second world where she is happier. Her selfish father David (Ian McElhinney),who is a second-rate novelist ,tries to make himself better by having a vacation with his children and giving them ungenerously chosen presents after ignoring them for years. He spends hours on writing and secretly feels guilty for neglecting his family but still insensitive enough to use Karin’s battle against schizophrenia for his new novel. He thinks that he is looking for the meaning of life.
Her doctor husband Martin (Justin Salinger)who insincerely tries every way to help her get better but never able to make Karin believe that he is genuine. In a scene when they are about to go to bed Karin tells her husband : “You tell all the right words but it still sounds wrong and irritating.” He gets sexually refused by Karin which makes him think that he is impotent.
Maxi (Dimitri Leonidas)is Karin’s brother who is too young to understand all the schizophrenic episodes of his sister whom he is sexually attracted to. He is an artistic boy who writes a play which he has written his fears over his father ‘s recent relationship with a bossy woman. Self-centred father does not pay attention to the play at all. Maxi is also going through adolescent sexual crisis. He masturbates by looking at porn magazines and gets caught by Karin and they laugh at the situation together sometimes.
On the gray stage, none of the characters are happy and not really connected to each other as a family .Karin escapes to her second world where everybody is waiting to see God whenever she is not happy in the real world. The play ends with her big schizophrenic episode and all the voices tell her that she will see God this time. However she can’t as she is told that she does not know how to love. Karin decides to live in her second world and goes to hospital in helicopter with Martin leaving Maxi in fears.
David tells his scared son Maxi , who thinks that he can not survive : “You need to have something to hold on to ,to survive which is love.” and curtains close.
Bergman was inspired by a line in the Bible which suggests that as long as we live we are unable to see the true Nature of God in Through A Glass Darkly which is adopted for the stage by Jenny Worton and directed by Michael Attenborough.