by Hjalmar Söderberg adapted by Allan Edwall.
Wyndham’s Theatre 32 Charing Cross Road WC2H 0DA To 11 May 2013.
Mon-Sat 7.30 Mat Wed 2.30pm Sat 5pm.
Runs 1hr 30min No interval.
TICKETS: 0844 482 5120.
Review: Carole Woddis 18 April 18.
A wonder in the West End.
It’s good the West End can still take one by surprise. Doktor Glas is definitely an oddity, but a wonderfully theatrical one.
Part celebrity vehicle starring Krister Henriksson, the Swedish actor who originally created the TV detective Wallander, it’s also a highly original and distinguished piece of international theatre of the kind sometimes glimpsed at the Barbican but rarely in Shaftesbury Avenue, or Charing Cross Road for that matter.
Adapted from Hjalmar Söderberg’s Swedish classic, it tells of a doctor who falls madly in love with a female patient when she asks him to help her because the husband she married, a clergyman, now disgusts her.
Events roll from there. Nights come and go; lonely drinks taken at waterside bars; internal agonies debated. Suicide is contemplated; murder finally committed. And everything discreetly recorded from the colour of flowers to the moon rising and the blanketing snow slowly and finally falling.
It is, after all though, not so much the story that is utterly transfixing – and the hush on opening night was palpable – as the manner of its telling, Henriksson’s commanding performance and the backwash of primary colours against which the story is told. Lime green floods the stage as the doctor talks about morality; limpid blue for contemplation of the cosmos. Silver grey, primrose yellow and crimson highlight other moods.
Barely raising his voice – as well as surtitles on show, Henriksson also sports the ubiquitous head-mike – dressed in dependable brown tweed, his pacing and delivery are perfection, delicious even, though the material is subdued and troubling.
Sprinkled with bitter ironies, dashes of surrealism and the reality of dreams, the whole piece evokes a mixture of Pirandello, then again Albert Camus’ L’Etranger
Here is a man deeply out of love with mankind in general – the thumb nail sketches of friends around him are sly but devastating – if besotted by his beloved. Comforted by the natural world, he remains aloof, isolated, unloved and quietly despairing.
First published in 1905, the now deceased adaptor, Allan Edwall has rendered this early 20th century novel into a timeless study of alienation. Fabulous.
Doktor Glas: Krister Henriksson.
Directors: Peder Bjurman, Krister Henriksson.
Designer: Pedar Bjurman.
Lighting: Linus Fellbom.
Musical Director: Leif Jordansson.
Costume: Karin Hoeg.
Wig/Makeup: Sofia Ranow.
Artistic advisor: Lisa Ohlin.
Doktor Glas premiered at the Vasateatern Theatre in autumn 2006, before touring Sweden with the National Theatre. It subsequently played at the Dramaten Theatre Stockholm.
Presented by London International Arts Theatre and Tåbb AB.