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Creditors by August Strindberg – directed by Alan Rickman – BAM – Off Broadway Theater Review




picture - Creditors by August Strindberg - BAMTheater Review

by Cindy Pierre 

published April 25, 2010 



now playing Off Broadway at BAM in Brooklyn  

through May 16 


To be in debt is to breathe.  Everyone on this earth owes someone something.  Whether it be time, money, favors, forgiveness or apologies, we all have a balance due, even if it's to ourselves.  Sooner or later, the creditors come to collect.  August Strindberg's Creditors, a powerful, divisive work now playing at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, deals with the recovering of self-esteem and dignity.  David Greig's adaptation of it, along with the fiery performances, demonstrate that sometimes, holes in character and heart can't be refilled gently.  In this presentation, voids must be filled with the ripping of new ones in others. 


Lack is not something that is hidden in this production.  When we are first introduced to Adolph, the sniveling, shell of an artist played by Tom Burke, it is crystal clear that he lacks strength and courage.  Our inability to respect or like him multiplies when we find out, through extensive conversation with his counselor Gustav (Owen Teale), that his confidence has been stripped by his wife Tekla (Anna Chancellor). Bereft of color or charm, Ben Stones' pale hotel room mirrors Adolph's current state.  It is not the picture of warmth and relaxation one would expect from a vacation spot.  Rather, it screams confession, vulnerability and truth.


picture - Creditors by August Strindberg - BAMThrough advice that is alternately funny and wise, Gustav hardens Adolf until he realizes that his wife owes him a great deal for his patience, kindness, adoration, fidelity, and ultimately, for being a wimp. When we meet Anna, the woman that is as brazen as the sculpture that he crafts in her image, we know that she is unlikely to pay.  Under Alan Rickman's direction, Anna is a whirlwind that could easily sweep Adolph into her vortex.  And until she arrives, you'll be intellectually aroused but not gripped.


Part of the issue stems from the manner in which Rickman handles the opening sequences.  Because Strindberg/Greig's script has no real beginning, it is incumbent on the cast to intrigue us right away.  Teale and Burke, spending two-thirds of the play in close circumference, never hit a dramatic chord with each other.  Instead, they both wait to be pulled into a vortex of passion with Tekla during the latter part of the play.  As a result, we are jarred by the rage and the bombast that ensues, even if they're validated by the circumstances.


Creditors, though penned in 1888, features situations and philosophies that are timeless.  We will always have debts to collect, and some of us will employ savage tactics.  But above all else that we learn from this tragicomedy, Creditors teaches us that by recouping damages from the source, especially if they're of an internal nature, we may damage ourselves even further.


cindypierre @


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