When: 8th – 26th February 2011 at 7.30pm (Saturday Matinees at 3pm)
Where: New Diorama Theatre, 15 Triton Street, Regent’s Place, London
£: 14, concessions 10 (Tuesdays: special offer of 2 full price tickets for the price of 1. Tickets must be booked in advance of the day of performance and are subject to availability).
What is it?
Strindberg’s Apartment is a new adaptation by Simon Reade and weaves together August Strindberg’s five mini-masterpieces The Storm, After the Fire, The Ghost Sonata, The Pelican and The Black Glove into a unique production. The play is staged on an architect’s plan of an apartment block and occupies the full space of the auditorium. The audience is seated around the edge of the apartment becoming like flies on the wall.
The play is split into two halves with the first part telling the tale of the families that live crammed into the small rooms of the building. Their paths cross in the hall and stairwell of the building, through the noise that seeps through the apartment walls and the gossip between neighbours. As we peer into their rooms from our seats we begin to learn about the lives of the residents, their pasts, their present and their tangled relationships. The mother’s relationship with her son-in-law, the brother and sister, the cleaner and the concierge, the hard-working couple downstairs and the old man upstairs; each has an intriguing story to tell. The concierge acts as a kind of narrator, introducing the play and the building to us and explaining the types of families we are seeing, from the poor and honest to the rich and mean. At the end of the first half a fire sweeps through the building, the residents are locked inside.
This is the point at which I think I would have ended the play, for the second half introduces a whole different tone and rhythm to the play and doesn’t sit easily with the style of the first half. The characters are now ghosts and the real persona of some of the characters comes out. The second half tries to cram too much in and appears a bit rushed and slightly muddled. Perhaps this is because it is adapted from five stories that it comes across in this way. The acting becomes more stylised and the cast move to the sound of a ticking clock. Somehow this makes it feel more forced and harder to enjoy. The play is left open to our own interpretation but I can only think that I should have left in the interval.
More info: New Diorama Theatre