FRÄULEIN ELSE To 24 November.


by Arthur Schnitzler adapted by Anna Ostergren and Foteini Georganta.

Drayton Arms 53 Old Brompton Road SW5 0LJ To 24 November 2012.
Tue-Sun 8pm.
Runs 1hr 20min No interval.

TICKETS: 020 7835 2301.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 7 November.

Tragedy of sex and money scrupulously revealed.
If you’ve never heard of Arthur Schnitzler’s play Fräulein Else, don’t worry: neither had he. Schnitzler wrote it as a novella in 1924; Swedish co-translator Anna Ostergren now directs her own stage adaptation.

Lady Julia – is a lawyer’s daughter at the ends of her teens – and eventually, her tether. Apparently enjoying a holiday in an Italian resort (the spacious, if austere, upstairs room of the Drayton Arms’ upstairs theatre giving some slight suggestion of grandeur) her mother sends urgent requests for a substantial sum of money to prevent her lawyer-father’s exposure for embezzlement.

A rich, older admirer is staying at the hotel but Else soon realises he’ll want a return for his money, and that her own physical exposure will be buying her father’s safety. And there’s no guarantee the situation won’t worsen or be repeated.

First seen with friends, Else is soon isolated on the big stage (Ostergren uses the space fully, including corners, doors and ledges), spoken words revealing unspoken thoughts as apparent events are revealed as imaginings and possibilities. A Waiter occasionally passes with politeness, which her confusion and guilt interpret as judgmental; her friends pop in and out or sit at the side, seeing yet not understanding, in the same hotel while in a different world. Urgent messages about money come from her mother, who remains throughout at the side or in a shadowy corner, but always on Else’s mind.

And through her troubled state, her fear of any decision, Else’s view of herself changes; from first realisation what will happen to her, she moves to comparisons with women who sell themselves until the comparisons become identification and the way out similar to Strindberg’s Julie, yet, with only her own consciousness to guide her.

Her inner development, the shifts of self, make this piece fascinating. Ostergren might not have the most technically sophisticated cast, but there’s clarity and sharpness in the situation, which Sheena May’s Else, with her innocently youthful blonde-haired lightness, successfully navigates in its detail and depth.

Fräulein Else: Sheena May.
Herr Von Dorsday: Thomas Thoroe.
Mother: Jenifer Landor.
Cissy Mohr: Casserley Cielo.
Paul: Andrew Burke.
Porter: Jeffrey Powell.

Director/Designer: Anna Ostergren.
Lighting: Sarah Crocker.
Sound: Sam Gammon.
Costume: Natalie Khoo.
Assistant director: Ashleigh Robson.

2012-11-08 09:29:02

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