The squeak of the rubber soles drowns out the pedal organ

Selma Laglerlöf as a storyteller at Strindberg’s Intima Teater

Kent Olofsson at the piano and Anna Azcárate in the title role of Strindberg’s Intima theater’s “Fru Sorg”.

When Selma Lagerlöfs books have to go on stage, and they have to every now and then, theater makers are easily affected by a compulsive, biographical blink.

IN Mrs. Sorrow at Strindberg’s intimate theater, it is once again time for the cliché image of the fairy-tale woman Selma Lagerlöf to make an entrance. In her iconic hair knot and dress cut in front of the actor Anna Azcarate A manor story as textual monologue with great empathy and presence. With her fine register of voices and dialects, she switches frictionlessly between the novel’s characters, albeit sometimes unnecessarily hastily.

The tempo is now a smaller problem than that the advance information did not raise false hopes that Nina Jeppssons staging in some way would take a hold of the short novel from 1899 focusing on the mysterious figure Mrs. Sorrow. Because on the small turning stage at Norra Bantorget, Azcárate stomps around chronologically in Lagerlöf’s prose for a whole hour before the title character of this set appears. In addition, the rubber soles of her boots squeak horribly anachronistically against the otherwise well-thought-out sound design.

But the main characters in this narrative theater are still the violin-playing and later mentally ill student Gunnar Hede, who becomes a farm trader to save the family’s manor, and the young Ingrid, whom he saves from being buried alive. She who in turn then saves him with the power of her love.

No critical comments about unhealthy co-dependency here, but we are kept in Selma’s fairy tale time, with the good help of sound effects that pop and pop as well as smoke and lighting design with magical mirror reflections. But Mrs. Sorg herself does not get much more air under the bat’s wings than the other characters in the novel, and all chances for imaginative double play between the author figure and the old woman with gleaming fangs and a taste for misfortune are missed.

The musical setting becomes the reward for someone who has higher demands on performing arts than seeing a live audiobook she has already read. The composer Kent Olofsson is on stage, dressed in horns and skins like the Goat. But he doesn’t play Gunnar Hede, who gets this nickname after all, and not even the violin, but the pedal organ. Nina Jeppsson also participates herself. In an Emil hat and angel wings, she plays the jukebox and sings about the darkness of the soul and fantasies. For an unclear reason in English, which further causes the stage concept to hang like an overly loose theatrical costume on this Swedish novel material.

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Peggy McColl

Mentor l NY Times Bestselling Author. Hi, I'm Peggy McColl, and I'm here to deliver a positive message to you!

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