BROCKLEY JACK STUDIO THEATRE.
Living Record create an intense portrait of of lives crumbling as the world around them changes irretrievably.
Revolution is coming at last, and for the remaining wealthy guests in a grand hotel, one at least is pretty clear about the fate awaiting him when the furious mob finally gets through.
Creditors is Neil Smith’s version of Strindberg’s destructive psychological drama. Although the background sounds of riot are heard from time to time, the main action here is not on the streets, but inside the head of Adolph, a young artist tormented by internal demons.
Tice Oakfield is engrossing as Adolph, bouncing between joyful artistic expression and the suicidal impulses that impose themselves despite his best intentions. Playing a man on the brink of an irretrievable breakdown is a very fine balancing act, and Oakfield creates a convincing account of Adolph’s anguish as he agonises over his art, the loss of his son, and his sense of indebtedness to his wife.
He is slightly less at ease as the adoring young husband of aloof, sexually charged novelist Tekla. She returns from another successful publicity trip for her wildly popular vampire novels, urgently in need of proof that she remains desirable despite being past the bloom of youth.
Rachel Heaton is a predatory and patronising Tekla, stalking the stage with feline grace. But despite the blatant sexuality of their exchanges, there remains a curious awkwardness between the husband and wife.
Of course this may be in part because Gustav, the only other guest in the hotel, has been working mercilessly on Adoph’s vulnerable spirit. Paul Trussell brings an amiable, intelligent charm to Gustav as he gradually attempts to destroy a man and a marriage under the guise of friendship. The opening build-up between the two men is a long and difficult scene, and Trussell matches Oakfield’s intensity.
However, costume supervisor Hilda Greenwood might perhaps have chosen him a more financier-friendly outfit, as his crumpled dressing gown ensemble doesn’t really reflect the ‘preened’ man of the script, or mark the difference in confidence levels between the artist and the banker.
Lewis Fowler’s sound and lighting design make a valuable contribution to the production, with the menacing undercurrent of turbulence outside creating a source of unease – though the emotional destruction going on inside the hotel is every bit as savage as any street mob’s work.
This is not an easy play to watch, with its episodes of cruelty and manipulation, but director Ross Drury’s talented cast have created a raw, chilling portrait of lives disintegrating alongside the society that bred them.
• Until April 11, 7.45pm
Brockley Jack Studio Theatre, 410 Brockley Road, London SE4 2DH.
0333 666 3366 (£1.50 fee for phone bookings only)