Welcome! This is your first free article. Get more free articles when you sign up with your email.


“A superb staging of strindberg's tragicomedy”

For the opening show of its 2019 season, Theatre by the Lake picks up where its 2017 production of Miss Julie left off, reuniting with London’s Jermyn Street Theatre for the world premiere of Howard Brenton’s new version of Strindberg’s classic play. The result is a wonderful piece of theatre that exposes the terrifying ways in which marital intimacy can become destructive.

The shifting rhythms and tones of Brenton’s text are superbly brought out by director Tom Littler. The play opens in comic mode with James Sheldon’s tremblingly sensitive artist Adolf being amusingly patronised by David Sturzaker’s Gustav. But the stakes are soon revealed to be high: it’s as if Wilde’s Algernon and Jack are being pastiched by Nietzsche.

The transition to the more ambiguous, tragic terrain of the ending is beautifully managed. Max Pappenheim’s excellent sound design is key to this. The familiar noises of a working harbour gradually morph into a menacing score of eerie horns and bells.

Brenton does a fine job of reducing the distance between the late 19th-century avant-garde psyche and our own, but there are still challenges for the actors in the real-time compression of the action.

Each performance is a triumph. Sturzaker’s Gustav is effortlessly suave while revealing more and more of the ice within. Sheldon’s Adolf is pathetically believable as the artist losing his moorings. Dorothea Myer-Bennett, as Adolf’s wife Tekla, is utterly compelling. She brings deep emotional and intellectual complexity to the slightest of lines. In her hands, Tekla’s evolving understanding of the unfolding revelations is absolutely gripping.

Related to this Review

Standing at the Sky's EdgeStanding at the Sky's Edge

Production Details
Production nameCreditors
VenueTheatre by the Lake
StartsMarch 22, 2019
EndsApril 20, 2019, then at London's Jermyn Street Theatre from April 26 to June 1
Running time1hr 20mins
AuthorAugust Strindberg
AdaptorHoward Brenton
DirectorTom Littler
Set designerLouie Whitemore
Lighting designerJohanna Town
Sound designerMax Pappenheim
CastDavid Sturzaker, Dorothea Myer-Bennett, James Sheldon
Production managerPhilip Geller
ProducerJermyn Street Theatre, Theatre by the Lake
VerdictSuperbly staged and performed version of Strindberg’s classic tragicomedy
Add New Comment
You must be logged in to comment.

Your subscription helps ensure our journalism can continue

Invest in The Stage today with a subscription starting at just £3.98
The Stage
© Copyright The Stage Media Company Limited 2020
Linked In