Theatre 2: More than just the Beart necessities

Jealousy was to Strindberg what daffodils were to Wordsworth: his paranoid relationship with Siri von Essen inspired the events of Playing With Fire (1892), a one-acter whose central menage-a-trois of characters were so blatantly and libellously based on the playwright's former friends that it wasn't performed in his native Sweden until 1907. Luc Bondy's sensitive and surprising French-language revival made its only British appearance last week at the Nottingham Playhouse, with film star, anti- Le Pen activist and nude harmonica player Emmanuelle Beart heading a uniformly strong cast.

The first big tick is for Marie-Louise Bischofberger's French version of the text. Not only did this purge the play of the awkward Edwardianisms that sometimes cripple English translations of Strindberg, but it saved its lead the embarrassment of English-language acting: anyone who puzzled over her bizarrely-inflected performance in Mission: Impossible will know what I mean.

In this country, Strindberg is usually staged as goggle-eyed Expressionism: yelling, corsetry, goatee beards, men who look like Kierkegaard and women who look like Mrs Danvers. Bondy has broken this mould, coaxing fresh-minted performances from his cast and checking any tendency towards sturm und drang with a delicate, sensual naturalism. As for Emmanuelle Beart, being the most beautiful woman in Europe does neither her nor the box-office any harm. Her performance as the troubled Kerstin has a rare, easy spontaneity: when she eats a strawberry, kicks a suitcase, or slaps her husband, it barely seems as if she's been directed to do so. Laurent Grevill is all dry lassitude as her loveless husband, Knut, and Thierry Fortineau slow-burns with lechery as Kerstin's lover Axel (a part widely considered to be the author's self-portrait). And when Axel and Kerstin finally get their hands on each other, there's a monstrous quality to their embrace: it's only the fact that an old relative walks in on them that seems to prevent this becoming potentially lethal physical contact.

In concert with Bondy's unhysterical approach to the text, designer Richard Peduzzi has rejected the asylum monochromes customary to Strindberg productions, taking his aesthetic cue from Edward Hopper rather than Edvard Munch: his set has the haunting plainness of a Hopper homestead, its white planks and agoraphobic spaces lending perfect support to Dominique Brugiere's mournful lighting. With the play's psychotic impulses masked beneath a skin of sunlit gentility, this is Strindberg without melodramatic tears: like its characters, the production hides its nasty heart in summer colours, and is more powerful for it.

Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister
TVSPOILER ALERT: It's all coming together as series returns to form
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

    £40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

    Guru Careers: Software Developer

    £35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

    Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

    £25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

    Day In a Page

    Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

    Abuse - and the hell that follows

    James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
    Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

    It's oh so quiet!

    The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
    'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

    'Timeless fashion'

    It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
    If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

    Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

    Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
    New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

    Evolution of swimwear

    From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
    Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

    Sun, sex and an anthropological study

    One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
    From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

    Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

    'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
    'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

    Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

    This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

    Songs from the bell jar

    Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
    How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

    One man's day in high heels

    ...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

    Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
    The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

    King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

    The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

    End of the Aussie brain drain

    More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
    Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

    Can meditation be bad for you?

    Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
    Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

    Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

    Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine