Posted on: 20 October 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

Laurence Green reviews a darkly comic drama of obsession.

Love, revenge, jealousy and obsession are the ingredients of Strindberg’s dark comedy Creditors, revived in an absorbing new version by David Greig at the Donmar Warehouse.

Set in the lounge of a seaside hotel, the drama centres on the triangle between sexually audacious Tekla, her crippled artist husband, Adolph, and a ‘stranger’ Gustav, who torments Adolph by raising doubts about his cherished wife’s fidelity - until that is she turns up to set the record straight.

This is a work which looks at what might be termed ‘human’ rather than ‘monetary’ indebtedness, where comfort soon turns to destruction as old wounds are opened, insecurities laid bare and former debts settled.

Although written in 1888, it is very contemporary in outlook.  Strindberg dissects marriage with the same brutal honesty and daring of our leading modern playwrights.  Indeed Strindberg still has a thing or two to teach us about the fallibility of human relationships.

Enacted on menacing white boards and surrounded by water and seagulls, reminding us of the bourgeois civility Strindberg so despised, the 90-minute production takes its time to make its impact, but exerts a vice-like grip from the start. 

This is largely due to a trio of excellent performances, under Alan Rickman’s firm direction, notably Owen Teale as Gustav, a man of all consuming, nihilistic envy, Tom Burke as Adolph, who initially finds solace in the words of Gustav but is then driven almost to madness by what he perceives is his wife’s sexual betrayal, and Anna Chancellor as Tekla, the woman in question who becomes the centre of attention, or should I say attraction, between the two men.

In short this is a play of great insight and power which provides considerable food for thought.

Laurence Green

Plays until 15th November 2008.

Booking Information

Box office: 0870 060 6620 or:

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