Theatre Review: Strindberg’s Apartment

Faction Theatre Company’s ambitious staging of five Strindberg plays falters through its own ambition in STRINDBERG’S APARTMENT at the New Diorama Theatre in Camden.

FACTION Theatre Company present Strindberg’s Apartment - five short Strindberg plays woven in to one piece.

A new adaptation by Simon Reade (former Royal Shakespeare Company literary manager and ex-artistic director of Bristol Old Vic) is staged on an architect’s plan of an apartment block that occupies the full space of the auditorium.

This is an ambitious project, as each one of the five stories has enough to keep you going for an evening, and condensing all five plays into one sitting brings with it a lot to digest - kidnap, adultery, arson, estrangement and the supernatural!

The piece is cleverly choreographed and designed, and at the start of the evening you feel like you could be in for something really special. Unfortunately, the sheer size of the project gets in the way as there are simply too many stories to tell in two hours.

Some of the cast fall into the trap of underplaying their parts, due probably to the very tight confines of the set design and the absolute immediacy of the audience. Knight Mantell’s experience shines through however, and pitches his performance as the old devil in the attic to perfection. Other strong appearances come from Clare Latham as the quietly pining Louise and Jonny McPherson as the roguish son-in-law.

This is an ambitious project and Faction deserves credit for reviving these overlooked plays. I can’t help but feel though that if they had chosen to tackle three instead of five of these great plays, the evening would have had a greater chance of success.

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* Showing at the New Diorama Theatre in Triton Street, Camden, until Saturday, February 26.