Opened 17 April 2008
Written: Tony Harrison
Directed: Tony Harrison and Bob Crowley
Produced: National Theatre
Cast: Mark Addy (Johansen), Sian Thomas (Sybil Thorndike), Jasper Britton (Nansen), Jeff Rawle (Gilbert Murray)
Synopsis: About the Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen. This epic sweep of a play takes us from a contemporary Westminster Abbey to the Arctic ship Fram – or Forward – specially built by the famous Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen who, with his suicidal companion, Johansen, makes a bid on foot for the North Pole in the 1890s. Though incompatible, they share a bear fur sleeping-bag through the long winter. Nansen, still haunted by Johansen’s ghost, is appointed to the League of Nations. As a figurehead of Russian famine relief in 1922, he conducts the first celebrity campaign, searching for means, however shocking, to make people care.
What the popular press had to say.....
MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "He [Tony Harrison ] has bitten off more than any single play can chew and, dramatically, there are dead patches. But I can forgive any play that aims high. And there is abundant theatricality in a production...that embraces intellectual argument and classical ballet and that is written in exuberant rhyming couplets." FIONA MOUNTFORD for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Bizarre rhyming verse drama...resembles nothing so much as a punishingly pretentious theatre studies project mounted by a student who has overdosed on Brecht." HEATHER NEILL for THE STAGE says, "Fram is mainly a decorative sermon." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Awkward, troubling, sometimes stomach-turning verse play."
production photo by Nobby Clark