Creditors

August Strindberg apparently subtitled his play Creditors (in Swedish: Fordringsäxgare) a “tragicomedy” but, while David Greig’s 2008 adaptation does indeed contain a few decent one-liners to inspire laughter, this remains an all-too-easily depressing tale of individuals brought down by the forgotten or overlooked fracture-lines in their own personalities—not least their ability to easily forget how past actions always come with a price which has to be paid, sooner or later.

What we witness is a slow but sure-footed exploration of jealousy, distrust and revenge

A decade on, Greig – now well established as the Artistic Director of Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre – has chosen director Stewart Laing to revive his version of arguably Strindberg’s most mature work, which is essentially a series of three concentrated duologues between young artist Adolph (Edward Franklin) and the mysterious visitor Gustav (Stuart McQuarrie), Adolph and his author wife Tekla (Adura Onashile), and Tekla and Gustav. What we witness is a slow but sure-footed exploration of jealousy, distrust and revenge that aims to be timeless and specific, although there remains a disconnect between those two aspects which is ultimately distracting.

As someone genuinely unsure about the recent resurrection of “broadcast theatre”, which manages to neither transmit the unique atmosphere of live performance nor match the full cinematic potential of filmed drama, it feels strange to admit that some of the most effective moments of Stewart Laing’s directorial take on Greig’s script involve the audience watching the action taking place inside the beach hut (which fills much of the Lyceum’s stage) on a screen. In part, this is simply down to tight choreography which results in the camera operator providing some emotionally intense visuals of Tekla and Gustav, head to head.

The real strength, however, comes from the cast: as is to be expected from an actor of McQuarrie’s skill, he is adept at shifting emphasis between stage and close-up camera work. While Onashile may lack obvious screen experience, she contains her performance well, providing us with a fascinating mix of vivacity and hurt as Tekla suddenly comes to recognise the author of her undoing. It’s a shame, really, that Franklin only has the opportunity to give us a somewhat theatrical stage performance as Adolph, restricted to using the broadest of performance strokes during his scenes with McQuarrie and Onashile.

Less successful are the four young women, dressed as Girl Guides, who arrive on stage between scenes, perform some action – semaphore, or lighting a fire – and then leave, stone-faced and silent. Their costumes are indeterminately vintage, suggesting a 19th century Scandinavian setting that somewhat clashes with the ethnic-blind casting of Tekla. Clearly looking to emphasise the timeless themes of Strindberg’s classic, Laing ignores how often that’s paradoxically best achieved in the quite specific.

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

Royal Lyceum Theatre

Mrs Puntila And Her Man Matti

★★
Traverse Theatre

W*nk Buddies

★★★
Traverse Theatre

Pride Plays

★★★★
Multiple Venues

Oor Wullie

★★★★
Oran Mor / Traverse Theatre

Fly Me To The Moon

★★★★
Platform / Traverse Theatre

The Panopticon

★★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

“Life offers a thousand means by which we can hurt each other.” Young artist, Adolph is in love with his new wife, the successful novelist Tekla, and why would he not be? Charming, vivacious and experienced, she has been his passion, his inspiration and his education. As he anxiously awaits her return to their seaside retreat, Adolph finds solace in the words of a stranger. But comfort soon turns to destruction as old wounds are opened, insecurities laid bare and former debts settled in a tight spiral of psychological manipulation, love, betrayal and revenge.

Most Popular See More

The Play That Goes Wrong

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Mousetrap

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Cinderella The Musical

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Mary Poppins

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Book of Mormon

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets