Play Strindberg, Ustinov Theatre, Bath

Play Strindberg-credit Simon Annand-124THE Ustinov Studio’s exciting autumn season opens with the UK premiere of Play Strindberg, Alistair Beaton’s new translation of Friedrich Durrenmatt’s satirical take on Dance of Death.

The programme starts with an imagined conversation between the Swiss dramatist and his translator, justifying the slight changes but emphasising that this is very much a translation and not a new version of the play … to Durrenmatt’s satisfaction.

Max Jones and Ruth Hall have transformed the intimate Ustinov space by creating a circle of light around the room where the action takes place, and the play, in 12 chapters, is directed by Nancy Meckler.

Strindberg wrote the “bourgeois marriage tragedy” and Durrenmatt re-imagined it as a comedy based on a bourgeois marriage tragedy.

In this brilliant production, there is plenty of comedy to enliven the dreadful existence of the controlling and deluded army officer Edgar and his younger former actress wife Alice.

Play Strindberg-credit Simon Annand-199When Alice’s cousin Kurt arrives for supper and to stay with them in their circular tower above the prison on a remote island, the truth will out.

Or will it?

One of the delights and puzzles of this 90 minute play is that you never know who is telling the truth, or whether you can believe the evidence of your own eyes.

The exceptional performances – by the mesmerising Greg Hicks as the authoritarian Edgar, Sally Dexter as the voluptuous Alice and Richard Clothier as the enigmatic Kurt – make this a fascinating evening of shock and laughter, lies and expectations.

It’s on until Saturday 11th October.



Photographs by Simon Annand.

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