Doktor Glas

Hjalmar Soderberg
Wyndham’s Theatre

Krister Henriksson in Doktor Glas

Hjalmar Soderberg’s novel of love and guilt, published in 1905, is a modern Swedish classic. I have not read the book and I do not speak Swedish. I tried so hard to get hold of an English translation but none is in print.

Krister Henriksson, the Swedish actor, is well known to British audiences through his appearance on television in the popular detective series Wallander. But can he fill a West End theatre for 39 performances with a solo performance in Swedish?

You might expect him to be able to fill the Barbican or the National Theatre for six performances. Are there enough Swedes? There are 25,000 Swedes living in the UK. And then there are the tourists. So, it’s not impossible. The performance I attended was full of Swedes who gave him a standing ovation.

A beautiful young woman is married to a revoltingly sickly and aged clergyman who refuses to relinquish his marital rights. She seeks help from a doctor who becomes so infatuated with her that he starts having murderous thoughts. The story is told by Doctor Glas, who is having a serious psychological crisis. There are no other actors. There are, fortunately, surtitles in English.

Prestanda är imponerande men det skulle säkert ha varit bättre från en engelsk synvinkel för Henriksson gör sin London debut I en klassisk pjäs snarare än en one-man show?

Or as we say in English:

The performance is impressive but it would, surely, have been better, from a commercial and certainly from an English point of view, for Henriksson to make his London debut in a classic play rather than a one-man show?

I, for one, should have preferred to have seen him in a play by Strindberg or by Ingmar Bergman; but, nevertheless, any classic, old or modern, would have made more sense.

Doctor Glas as a fully cast play would have been preferable. Henriksson gives a very good and amusing idea as to how he might have played the odious, wheezing and bent-double clergyman.

Reviewer: Robert Tanitch