WhatsOnStage Logo

Doktor Glas

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
WhatsOnStage logo

The Swedish Wallander, Krister Henriksson, has brought his stylish, gloomy monodrama, a classic depression fest of a doomed love triangle, to Wyndham's, and will surely delight his legion of fans, though delight is just two steps from misery in a piece that reeks of Strindberg and Ingmar Bergman.

I'm in no mood for Swede-bashing, but I do have a few problems here that are not germane to Henriksson's. He plays an over-sensitive Stockholm physician who falls in love with the wife of a ghastly pastor; she wants him to make out she's diseased so that hubby lays off exerting his marital rights and she can pursue an adulterous affair.

Shocking, you'll agree, and the subject of a famous Swedish novel by Hjalmar Söderberg that playwright Allan Edwell adapted some 30 years ago for another great actor; Henriksson, who is, no mistake, definitely a great actor, and a very youthful-looking 66 year-old, recreated the role six years ago as a birthday present to himself.

So, thanks to Wallander, we can share the experience. But why is the actor miked in the most acoustically perfect theatre in London? And the design of his study means that reading the English sur-titles - blurry at the back, too high at the front - in the stalls necessitates an amount of neck-wrangling that alienates you further.

Wallander is a sad alcoholic wreck of a man, and as Henriksson's doctor is not much further up the misery tree - how could he have chosen a profession that suited him the least, he asks in the first scene? - his fans will no doubt just roll the two of them into each other.

But for all his natural charm and easy physical presence, Henriksson seems too old for the role. And he turns his invisible adversary, the scheming Helga's revolting clerical husband, into a grotesque, salivering homunculus, though the poor chap's only 57.

Henriksson co-directs the piece with Peder Bjurman (who also designs) and the lighting, which is colourful but wilful and arbitrary, is by Linus Fellborn. While Henriksson gathers the sympathy vote with a cry about life passing him by, they even have the nerve to slam out Lou Reed on the sound system declaring "It's such a perfect day".


Tagged in this Story