The irony of staging Strindberg’s ‘Creditors’ during the current financial troubles affecting the world will surely enhance the image of debt collectors hanging over you while you sleep. This is certainly one of the image Strindberg constructed for an ex-husband overshadowing a marriage. Strindberg does in fact go further in the examination of marriages in this David Greig’s compact, cut down version of ‘Creditors’. The plot centres on a couple individually conversing to whom later transpired to be the ex-husband. This play offers abundant insights in relationships and marriages. It deals with how opinions of couples diverge or converge, implication on future relationships after a divorce and insights which seems obvious but only became clear when spoken of.
The success of the staging depends on the handling of the manipulation and threat by the ex-husband Gustav as he comes back for revenge. As a stranger, he sets about conversing with the husband Adolf who is suffering from a debilitating illness in a sea-side resort hotel lounge. The director, Alan Rickman, managed to sustain the momentum of threat and anticipation of menace. This compensated for the drop of pace during some parts of the play where the tension between the characters slackened. Tom Burke as Adolf was soulful in his confession on love for his wife whilst being a man tortured with physical disability. Anna Chancellor’s Tekla was playful and seductive and a great illustration as to what brought on the insecurities for men in her life. Owen Teale played the ex-husband Gustav with subtle quietness which exploded gloriously into terror for the couple. The beautiful set of white wash walls and furniture gave an air of deliberate cover up of the past, adding to the cynicism and isolation conveyed by the dripping sound of water which surrounds the stage. This beautifully lit production is not perfect, but during the persisting financial uncertainty, to be reminded of a different kind of creditors may be a welcome distraction.