One sunny day in Paris, Gustave Alland, famous artist and philanderer, visits Louise Strandberg – convalescing in her brother's studio – and casts her effortlessly under his spell. In a vain attempt to escape, she exiles herself to her provincial hometown in Sweden. But a letter propels her back to Paris and into his arms. And for a brief moment, before the horror, ecstasy is hers.
Author Victoria Benedictsson, the inspiration for Strindberg’s Miss Julie, had a scandalous affair which led to her suicide after completing the play in 1888. At the National, the semi-autobiographical Enchantment is led by Nancy Carroll as Louise and Zubin Varla as Gustave, with Niamh Cusack as Erna. The production is directed by Paul Miller and designed by Simon Daw.
Several first night critics fell under the spell of The Enchantment and were particularly beguiled by the “hauntingly beautiful” Nancy Carroll as the doomed Louise Strandberg. They were excited by the prospect of the discovery of a previously “unknown” play, particularly one with such clear autobiographical nods, and intrigued by its commentary on the differing male/female perspectives on the nature of relationships. However, others, while impressed by all of that and the cast’s “detailed” performances, felt that in the end the story lacked the “essential dynamic” to make it truly moving drama.
- by Ryan Woods & Terri Paddock