THE Master Builder dare not climb as high as he can build", is Hilde Wangel's challenge; it finds an echo in the National Theatre itself. Laurence Olivier plays Henrik Ibsen's "Master Builder", and as the Director of the National Theatre builds no empty castles in the air. In this season of the National Theatre, at the home of the former Old Vic, we have been treated to a rare display of brilliance and variety. Ibsen has been seen to great advantage in recent years. One vividly recalls Peggy Ashcroft's "liedda Gabler" and the fine production of "The Lady from the Sea".
In "The Master Builder", which has so much ip it of himself, the author has been superbly served by producers and actors.
Laurence Olivier does not miss a nuance, and his slightest inflection helps us to understand the gigantic fraud of the man, afraid of himself, Maggie Smith's Hilde sweeps through the play so exhilaratingly that she takes us to the pinnacles of her castle of desire. Celia Johnson's last moment of horror chills the heart.
Anyone who had the slightest doubts of the. need for a National Theatre must now throw them aside.