Red Stitch Actors Theatre
19 November 2010
to 18 December
Is love always a competition? Would we really rather that our exes thought we were happy than to actually be happy? August Strindberg had three wives and if his art is any reflection of his life, then there's no wonder that a long quiet monogamous life wasn't for him.
This new version of Strinberg's The Creditors by UK playwright David Grieg was commissioned by the Donmar Warehouse in 2008. The adaption maintains the formality a of Strindberg's language, but ensures that we can't dismiss the behaviour and emotional impact as a reflection of its time. Couples still hide behind decorum to rip shreds off each other and no one fights as dirty as someone trying to ruin love, apart from someone trying to make their lover love them better.
Whilst waiting for his beloved wife Telka (Kat Stewart) to return, crippled artist Adolph (Brett Cousins) takes counsel from the older and wiser Gustav (Dion Mills). Gustav insists that Adolph has been emasculated by his wife's independence and her writing career and can only regain his masculinity through sexual abstinence. It all makes complete sense to the sensitive artist, especially as the gorgeous Telka still flirts with no regard to his manhood. On her return Telka isn't keen on the idea and wonders why her husband wants to know too much about her ex.
In Strindberg's world, relationships are about personal gain and his characters show the side of love that is governed by ego, jealousy and control; where winning is far more important than how they play the game. We all like to think that we're better than that – but I dare anyone to not recognise a moment or a motivation with regret.
The Creditors is an actors play. Each role is a gift for the cast who relish every syllable. This results in three different performances and as each character is so unaware of the feelings of other people this strengthens their isolation and leaves little room for authentic connection. If we felt too sorry for any of them or believed they could be happy, The Creditors might be too painful to laugh at .
This review appears on AussieTheatre.com.