In this play, Ibsen draws his characters from Norwegian mythological figures including the mermaid – Ellida – and the draug, a sailor lost at sea whose undead body comes back to haunt the living – the Stranger.
The title character, Ellida, grew up on and island and has always had a close relationship to the sea. When she moves inland to marry a widowed doctor with two daughters, she becomes physically and emotionally displaced in her new environment. I reflected this isolation in the costume design by distinguishing the “sea” characters from the “land” characters. Ellida’s husband and step-daughters are associated with the land, indicated by warm earth tones in their costumes. Ellida and the Stranger, her ex-lover and the draug character who comes back to claim her, are in cool blues, greens, and greys to reflect their close and eerie relationship to the sea.