THEATRE – Creditors – The Space – 4K

Peter Kowitz and Matt CrookBy Peter Maddern

For this production Duncan Graham has adapted the 19th century original of Swedish playwright August Strindberg. Typical of his works Creditors combines the then new style of naturalism with deep investigations of psychology, something the writer wastes no time introducing as the play opens with an older man, Gustav (Peter Kowitz) counselling the much younger Adolph (Matt Crook), the budding artist, for purposes the audience must await to discover.

From there the intensity of the exchanges ratchets up, first between those two, then between Adolph and his wife, the feisty Tekla (Caroline Craig) and finally Tekla and Gustav. It’s a style that needs pinpoint accurate delivery and all three cast members deliver on what must have seemed like, at times, a daunting commitment.

Many of the themes, especially those explored by the men, may seem confronting – more reasons why men are bad – and the self-determined Tekla, suited up in a fiery red dress and out to live her own life must have been even more so to Strindberg’s first audiences in and around 1890.

But Tekla proves to be a person of substance, not cowering to the attacks she must endure behind a wall of victimhood. She stands her ground and, by play’s end, proves her worth in the face of what proves to be inadequacy around her.

All three players do great work. Kowitz mixes a calculating nature in his torrent of hurt with aplomb. Craig is strong and forceful but not overbearing while Crook plays the emotionally immature with a welcome lightness and humour.

Adapting works to the modern day is fraught with danger; the impact of mobile phones and social media renders what was once impossible (and plausible) not so today. The references to Instagram and leaving their phones elsewhere don’t really add up but no harm is done by it all. Matt Crook’s get up perhaps not so; his hair particularly seems to parody his hipster world rather than represent it. Ailsa Paterson’s set of warm colours with the infinity pool beyond takes us to a resort even though exactly where is never discussed and doesn’t much matter.

This is solid and enjoyable theatre requiring of full attention if the parrying of intellectual barb and sword and the resulting expositions of strength and weakness that director David Mealor so admirably extracts from his players is to be fully appreciated.

Kryztoff Rating   4K

Leave a Reply