4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

Libelous Tell-All

Thus far, the La Jolla Playhouse’s season has been forgettable. In Terrence McNally’s slight Unusual Acts of Devotion and Claudia Shear’s not-ready-for-prime-time Restoration, the sets — for good or ill — were more memorable than the plays; Herringbone and The 39 Steps, a curio and a diversion, stressed performance over theme. None of these plays dared to engage large emotions, in the characters or in us.

Doug Wright’s expert adaptation of Strindberg’s drama The Creditors ups the stakes. In this stormy folie á trois, love becomes mere economics, and mental cruelty, once unleashed, assumes a life of its own.

Seven years ago, after he taught her taste and refinement, Gustav’s wife Tekla took a lover and not only dumped Gustav, she wrote a libelous tell-all about him. The book became a best seller, Gustav a national villain. Humiliated on the streets and in the classroom, where he taught “dead languages,” Gustav vowed revenge.

Gustav — and the misogynistic Strindberg — swears that Tekla’s a vampire of souls (the idea appears in Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus: when the doctor kisses a demon disguised as Helen of Troy, he shouts, “Her lips suck forth my soul!”). For seven years, Gustav’s certain, Tekla stole his talents. He gave, she took. He was the “creditor.” She tore up the receipts.

Tekla’s second husband Adolf also sees himself as a creditor. Now an invalid — Tekla stole his energy? — Adolf taught her to write and, by calling in favors from critics, helped forge her literary reputation. But as in her first marriage, Tekla’s begun to gaze beyond her vows.

Both men define themselves as victims. They’d much rather scapegoat Tekla than admit culpability. That they see love as a commercial exchange — a keeping score, rather than a mutual giving — indicts them. They refuse to acknowledge that in any punctured relationship, each side digs half the hole.

Along with soul theft, Strindberg became fascinated by a demented form of autosuggestion: using hypnosis and insistent repetition, so the theory went, one could induce negative thoughts and debilitating physical symptoms in another (Strindberg believed, for example, that Iago used autosuggestion on Othello). As part of his revenge on Tekla and her husband, Gustav tries to implant epilepsy in Adolf. The ploy’s certainly a stretch. And even Gustav’s surprised at how well he succeeds.

For the La Jolla Playhouse, Robert Brill devised a stately seaside resort’s day room (though his antsy lighting telegraphs important moments, Japhy Weideman’s design includes the hypnotic flickering of water images on gray tile). Long, wooden wheelchairs suggest infirmities throughout the building. Stage right, the playwright provides a constant visual comment on the proceedings: the unfinished sculpture of a naked woman. It’s of Tekla who, even after we meet her, remains somewhat incomplete. The statue also underscores a leitmotif: all three characters are, or wish they were, the sculptor; and each, in different ways, is as malleable as clay.

The 90-minute piece unfolds, almost musically, in three movements: Gustav’s lengthy indoctrination of Adolf; Tekla and Gustav’s reunion; Adolf and Tekla’s final confrontation. The play, even with Wright’s crisp translation, feels long-winded. What director Wright does beneath the dialogue, however, fascinates.

Every exchange is a contest of wills. At any given moment one will rise and the other sink: Tekla grabs control, then Adolf trumps her, or by means of some deft twist, Gustav vaults up several rungs. As each works to dominate the other, the actors reveal a growing desperation — a sense of the battle being lost, more troops needed, change the rules of engagement. Strindberg believed that all human interaction, every second, was a “mental struggle for domination.” Wright and his fine cast create an uncivil war.

In a spellbinding performance, T. Ryder Smith gives Gustav a precise, patient surface not always able to conceal the volcano within. As tormented Adolf, Omar Metwally flips from assertion to grave hurt, often using the latter as his best control tactic. By the time she enters, given Strindberg’s descriptions, one would expect Tekla to swoop down on a broom, with fangs for teeth and snakes for hair. Instead, in Wright’s balanced staging, Kathryn Meisle is lively and vital (albeit too young to hear she’s “too old to take a lover”). Her Tekla’s capable of everything Strindberg says, but Meisle gives Tekla equal time in what have been unequal partnerships from the start.

The Creditors by August Strindberg, translated by Anders Cato, adapted by Doug Wright
La Jolla Playhouse, Potiker Theatre, UCSD
Directed by Wright; cast: Kathryn Meisle, Omar Metwally, T. Ryder Smith; scenic design, Robert Brill; costumes, Susan Hilferty; lighting, Japhy Weideman; sound, Jill B.C. DuBoff
Playing through October 25; Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Matinee Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. 858-550-1010.

Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all

Previous article

The universal allure of PT Eatery

Making Vietnamese food at once approachable and interesting

Thus far, the La Jolla Playhouse’s season has been forgettable. In Terrence McNally’s slight Unusual Acts of Devotion and Claudia Shear’s not-ready-for-prime-time Restoration, the sets — for good or ill — were more memorable than the plays; Herringbone and The 39 Steps, a curio and a diversion, stressed performance over theme. None of these plays dared to engage large emotions, in the characters or in us.

Doug Wright’s expert adaptation of Strindberg’s drama The Creditors ups the stakes. In this stormy folie á trois, love becomes mere economics, and mental cruelty, once unleashed, assumes a life of its own.

Seven years ago, after he taught her taste and refinement, Gustav’s wife Tekla took a lover and not only dumped Gustav, she wrote a libelous tell-all about him. The book became a best seller, Gustav a national villain. Humiliated on the streets and in the classroom, where he taught “dead languages,” Gustav vowed revenge.

Gustav — and the misogynistic Strindberg — swears that Tekla’s a vampire of souls (the idea appears in Marlowe’s Dr. Faustus: when the doctor kisses a demon disguised as Helen of Troy, he shouts, “Her lips suck forth my soul!”). For seven years, Gustav’s certain, Tekla stole his talents. He gave, she took. He was the “creditor.” She tore up the receipts.

Tekla’s second husband Adolf also sees himself as a creditor. Now an invalid — Tekla stole his energy? — Adolf taught her to write and, by calling in favors from critics, helped forge her literary reputation. But as in her first marriage, Tekla’s begun to gaze beyond her vows.

Both men define themselves as victims. They’d much rather scapegoat Tekla than admit culpability. That they see love as a commercial exchange — a keeping score, rather than a mutual giving — indicts them. They refuse to acknowledge that in any punctured relationship, each side digs half the hole.

Along with soul theft, Strindberg became fascinated by a demented form of autosuggestion: using hypnosis and insistent repetition, so the theory went, one could induce negative thoughts and debilitating physical symptoms in another (Strindberg believed, for example, that Iago used autosuggestion on Othello). As part of his revenge on Tekla and her husband, Gustav tries to implant epilepsy in Adolf. The ploy’s certainly a stretch. And even Gustav’s surprised at how well he succeeds.

For the La Jolla Playhouse, Robert Brill devised a stately seaside resort’s day room (though his antsy lighting telegraphs important moments, Japhy Weideman’s design includes the hypnotic flickering of water images on gray tile). Long, wooden wheelchairs suggest infirmities throughout the building. Stage right, the playwright provides a constant visual comment on the proceedings: the unfinished sculpture of a naked woman. It’s of Tekla who, even after we meet her, remains somewhat incomplete. The statue also underscores a leitmotif: all three characters are, or wish they were, the sculptor; and each, in different ways, is as malleable as clay.

The 90-minute piece unfolds, almost musically, in three movements: Gustav’s lengthy indoctrination of Adolf; Tekla and Gustav’s reunion; Adolf and Tekla’s final confrontation. The play, even with Wright’s crisp translation, feels long-winded. What director Wright does beneath the dialogue, however, fascinates.

Every exchange is a contest of wills. At any given moment one will rise and the other sink: Tekla grabs control, then Adolf trumps her, or by means of some deft twist, Gustav vaults up several rungs. As each works to dominate the other, the actors reveal a growing desperation — a sense of the battle being lost, more troops needed, change the rules of engagement. Strindberg believed that all human interaction, every second, was a “mental struggle for domination.” Wright and his fine cast create an uncivil war.

In a spellbinding performance, T. Ryder Smith gives Gustav a precise, patient surface not always able to conceal the volcano within. As tormented Adolf, Omar Metwally flips from assertion to grave hurt, often using the latter as his best control tactic. By the time she enters, given Strindberg’s descriptions, one would expect Tekla to swoop down on a broom, with fangs for teeth and snakes for hair. Instead, in Wright’s balanced staging, Kathryn Meisle is lively and vital (albeit too young to hear she’s “too old to take a lover”). Her Tekla’s capable of everything Strindberg says, but Meisle gives Tekla equal time in what have been unequal partnerships from the start.

The Creditors by August Strindberg, translated by Anders Cato, adapted by Doug Wright
La Jolla Playhouse, Potiker Theatre, UCSD
Directed by Wright; cast: Kathryn Meisle, Omar Metwally, T. Ryder Smith; scenic design, Robert Brill; costumes, Susan Hilferty; lighting, Japhy Weideman; sound, Jill B.C. DuBoff
Playing through October 25; Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Matinee Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. 858-550-1010.

Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

So many grey whales killed off Point Loma

Camps at Ballast Point and La Playa extracted the oil
Next Article

Mom carried him into Escondido's Learning Jungle

Bruises in non-bony areas were the tip-off
Comments
0

Be the first to leave a comment.

Sign in to comment

Sign in

Art Reviews — W.S. Di Piero's eye on exhibits Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Best Buys — San Diego shopping Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits City Lights — News and politics Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Famous Former Neighbors — Next-door celebs Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town Here's the Deal — Chad Deal's watering holes Just Announced — The scoop on shows Letters — Our inbox [email protected] — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Of Note — Concert picks Out & About — What's Happening Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Pour Over — Grab a cup Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Sports — Athletics without gush Street Style — San Diego streets have style Suit Up — Fashion tips for dudes Theater Reviews — Local productions Theater antireviews — Narrow your search Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Waterfront — All things ocean Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close