Saturday, February 2, 2019

"Creditors" ☼ ☼ ☼

August Strindberg wrote "Creditors" in 1888. The new Aurora Theatre production written by David Greig and directed by Barbara Damashek works on many levels. We have old against young, strong versus weak, and woman versus man. The themes butt up against each other most in the role of Tecla, played with style by Rebecca Dines.

Tecla is married to Adolph (Joseph Patrick O'Malley), a weak and sickly artist. His wife is a flirt, and though quite liberated for the times, clearly looked down upon by the author who is well known for his misogyny. Tecla has written a novel in which her ex-husband Gustav (Jonathan Rhys Williams) is made out to be a fool. Enraged by her characterization of him, Gustav plots revenge against both Tecla and Adolph.

It is somewhat more difficult for a modern audience to understand why Adolph would fall for Gustav's specious lies, or to accept the plan the two men hatch to identify and punish Tecla's supposed unfaithfulness. Tecla's chief flaw appears to be she seems happy, a character trait apparently unknown by either of the two men.

The Title: "The Creditors," refers to the idea that "What you have is mine," that is, that no pleasure will last, that sooner or later you will have to pay for anything you love. The weak will be overcome by the strong. Women will remain inferior and men cruel and powerless. Not the kind of show you exit needing to see twice.

RATINGS: ☼ ☼ ☼

 The San Francisco Theater Blog awards "Creditors" Three Stars. Some may find Strindberg's characterizations of women to be painful, and others may wish they could open up Adolph and insert a bit of spine. In the end, despite fine acting, the play that was undoubtedly felt to be cutting edge in 1888 feels somewhat less so in 2019.

Aurora Theater
2081 Addison Street, Berkeley
EXTENDED Through March 3, 2019

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