Posts Tagged ‘August Strinberg’

I’ll go out of my way to see Lindsay Duncan on stage, even crossing London for some Swedish angst! Strindberg isn’t staged that often, and this less often than his other plays. I last saw it almost twenty years ago when it went straight to the West End, propelled by the casting of Ian Mckellen and Frances de la Tour, but this adaptation by Rebecca Lenkiewicz makes some significant changes.

Alice and Edgar are close to celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary (25th in the original). He is a military man (not retired here), she gave up her acting career when they married. Their relationship is seemingly loveless, their children and friends are estranged and they live in relative isolation on an island, bickering and bitching incessantly, and not in a lighthearted way. Alice’s cousin Katrin comes to stay after years of travelling, notably to America, as she has a job on the island. She blames Edgar for losing her custody of her children. Her relationship with Alice takes a surprising turn. In the original play, this is Kurt, a male character. I’m not entirely sure why it’s changed, it doesn’t really do much for the story. Some of the dialogue is littered with expletives, which brings out humour in the exchanges and gives the sparring and snipping a contemporary bite, but seems incongruous given the early 20th Century setting and location.

Lindsay Duncan doesn’t disappoint, a great characterisation of Alice, always watchable. I thought Hilton McRae’s Edgar was underpowered, lacking the presence of a military man, retired or otherwise. Emily Bruni was excellent as the cousin. Grace Smart’s design created an intimate space for this ‘cockfight’. It’s directed my the Arcola’s AD Mehmet Ergen, so London benefits from a presentation on a very welcome smaller scale in a tour to much larger venues.

Despite the fact it’s less than 90 minutes long, it doesn’t really sustain its length, largely because it’s more of a character study than a story. Worth seeing if you’re a theatre buff who hasn’t caught it before, and of course a rare opportunity to witness the impressive talents of Lindsay Duncan.

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