CREDITORS: by Neil Smith
The Brockley Jack Studio Theatre
410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH to 11 April 2015.
Runs 1 hr 30mins No interval.
TICKETS: 0333 666 3366.
Review: William Russell, 3 April 2015
A dance of death that thrills and chills the blood of which there is plenty on display.
This gripping, chilling and skilfully performed rewriting of Strindberg’s play about marital infidelity and revenge ends amid possibly even greater carnage than he intended. Neil Smith has changed the professions of the protagonists and set the action in a city in crisis, the populace rioting, the banks foundering. He’s clearly trying to lend a contemporary resonance to the steamy goings on.
In a deserted smart inner city hotel a young painter, Adolph, is being consoled by the only other guest, Gustav, a friendly, but clearly dangerous man with a hidden agenda. He has persuaded the young man that his talents lie in sculpture rather than in paint and Adolph has embarked on a clay model of a naked woman, actually his companion, Tekla, a successful novelist rather older than he is. She is out attending a meeting to promote her latest book. It is a game of cat and mouse between Gustav and Adolph, and when Tekla, glamorous and sexually demanding, returns Gustav disappears.
Tekla proceeds to seduce Adolph, who resists, succumbs and resists again. This is a battle of the sexes with Gustav, who is apparently the husband Tekla abandoned for her younger lover, intent on a bloody and horrible revenge.
Smith has rather over egged the tale – there is a lot of blood which does not appear in the original, Adolph being in that play an epileptic – but no matter. The result is a tightly coiled tale which holds the attention from start to finish.
Paul Trussell is a splendidly sinister but matter of fact and persuasive Gustav carefully dropping poison in the ear of the younger man; Tice Oakfield is convincingly neurotic, open to suggestion, and totally unsure of himself, as the strangely beautiful Adolph, and Rachel Heaton as the elegant Tekla oozes the slightly too ripe sex appeal of a woman just about to leave her prime. It is an evening to chill the blood, a roller coaster to damnation beautifully directed and staged.
Gustav: Paul Trussell.
Adolph: Tice Oakfield.
Tekla: Rachel Heaton.
Director: Ross Drury.
Designer: Leah Sams.