Arts > Playwrights’ play-off

25 February 2016 | by Mark Lawson

Playwrights’ play-off

In any discussion of who is the second greatest playwright in history – all sane judges concede first place to Shakespeare – the two leading candidates are the European near-contemporaries Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) and Anton Chekhov (1860-1904). As an aid to anyone who tends in this matter, like Boris Johnson on Europe, to “veer all over the place like a shopping trolley”, two London productions – Ibsen’s The Master Builder and Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya – currently serve as a run-off between the contenders.David Hare, who has made a new adaptation of The Master Builder, and Matthew Warchus, who directs it, start with the disadvantage of this being one of Ibsen’s problem plays. When a perky 23-year-old woman, Hilde Wangel (Sarah Snook) arriv


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