Brand – Fire – Who is Brand? He is no ordinary mortal; he has fire in his name, and the fire burns in him. It is not the fire of love, however, but an all-consuming fire that devours Brand from within.
Brand first appeared in 1866 with a print run of 625. The book attracted a great deal of attention, there were sermons about it and it sold fast. However, no theatre dared actually stage the play, and only 19 years later was it first performed in Stockholm. Ibsen's drama in verse, today almost forgotten, describes the inexorable desire for a perfect world, and the obsession of the young idealist Brand with saving the world, or at least the soul of man. "The hero Brand is considered a counterpart to Peer Gynt, a forerunner of Ibsen's other obstinate, difficult heroes. However, people are more attracted to contradictory heroes such as Peer Gynt than to consistent ones like Brand. The concept of a fanatical desire for perfection, for absolute truth, for the fulfilment of the slogan 'all or nothing,' does not appear to be a living construct. Especially today, when faith has lost its seriousness and force. Brand's stubbornness and absolute sacrifice in the name of an immaterial ideal can come across as absolute egoism and insensitivity. It is no surprise, then, that the character is often interpreted as fundamentalist and conservative," Jana Soprová has written.
"The creative team has taken on the difficult task of staging this passionate, controversial story with great responsibility. The precise stylisation and balance of the various elements is impressive – the carefully-created, symbolically-tinged staging details, the unusual harp accompaniment and the precise acting of the protagonists (...)
Although the creative team has approached the play with due seriousness, the production nevertheless exudes an attractive playfulness (in the sung passages, for example), and a sense of bizarreness and the absurd. The characterisation is concise but precise. The result is a peculiar score that combines musical, voice and movement elements in an impressive post-modern theatrical vision. An exclusive delicacy for theatrical gourmets."
(by Jana Soprová, ČRo 3 Vltava – Mozaika)
"Director Štěpán Pácl works with words in a way that shows huge respect for their content (parts of Karolína Stehlíková's contemporary-sounding translation have been poeticised by Ondřej Buddeus), but he also draws inspiration from the text's onomatopoeic potential – he sees 'verse as an ancient internal rhythm that is projected into the pictorial and acoustic resonance of the production'.
In addition to the musical accompaniment of the harpist, who responds immediately and sensitively to the content, there is a Burian-style voice band. The actors declaim in a way that passes fluently from prose to expressive sung passages. Parts of the text form original, stand-alone songs."
(by Marie Reslová, Hospodářské noviny)