Creditors – The New Theatre, Dublin

First Published January 2016

Writer: August Strindberg


Adaption: David Grieg

Director: Aoife Spillane-Hinks

A revival of August Strindberg’s Creditors opened to a full house in Dublin’s’ New Theatre. Commonly seen as one of Swedish writers Strindberg’s finest plays this powerful version was adapted by Scottish playwright David Greig.

Although written in 1888 it feels very modern, the tragicomedy finds a new home in 21sr Century Dublin. Set in an unnamed seaside resort it begins with two men Adolph (Kevin C Olohan), an artist who has recently turned his attentions to sculpture, and Gustav (Ronan Leahy), a stranger with whom Adolph finds it surprisingly easy to discuss the intricacies of his marriage. As Adolph awaits the return of his wife, Tekla (Susan Bracken), he takes the audience through their life together.

Adolph had always been happy with Tekla, however, Gustav does not seem willing to let him rest in his contentment. Adolph proves easily influenced and open to Gustav’s interpretation of the dynamics of his marriage. He latches onto the fact that they nickname each other Big Sister and Little Brother. She is always in the more powerful, dominant position while he is the one being educated, shaped by her. Gustav pounces on Adolph’s insecurities, a feeling that has intensified as her success as a writer has eclipsed his as an artist. Gustav proves to be a vindictive, destructive character as he works his charms first on Adolph, and then on Tekla.

This frequently dark play is also very funny. Gustav’s opinions on men and women make the audience laugh out loud throughout the first half before the characters edge closer and closer to tragedy. The setting is sparse, timeless and allows the focus to remain on the dialogue. The cast walks on to the gentle sound of Brahms which fades away into the background. However the play ends to the sound of heavy rock music blaring out from the stages’ two front speakers. The gathering intensity of Creditors is reflected in the music which reaches a crescendo before a coming to a sudden stop.

The three-person cast interacts together excellently, bringing the story of a couple and the weight of guilt to life in a forceful 90-minute act. As the title suggests the role of debt within relationships, one being indebted to the other for educating and inspiring them for example, plays a vital role throughout the play. As they examine the themes of seduction, betrayal, revenge and gender roles within marriage, can the marriage survive?

Runs until 6 February 2016 | Image: courtesy of The New Theatre

Review Overview

The Reviews Hub Score: 4*