(Jasper Rees’s article appeared 5/31 in the Evening Telegraph.)
Has a play ever had a longer gestation? Ibsen first started thinking about Emperor and Galilean in 1864 during a three-year sojourn in Rome. It was not performed until 1896 in Leipzig, then in Oslo in 1903. At nine hours, the play – set in two continents across a dozen years of the fourth-century Roman Empire – makes Peer Gynt look like a pigmy with agoraphobia. It has never been staged in English. Which is why the National Theatre can make the eye-catching claim that this month it will be premiering a new play by Ibsen.