There’s an nearly nonstop barrage of misogyny on show in “Collectors,” the August Strindberg drama enjoying at Berkeley’s Aurora Theater Firm in a brand new adaptation by David Greig, the Scottish playwright whose mass taking pictures drama “The Occasions” was not too long ago produced at each the Curran and Shotgun Gamers.
A brand new pal has wormed his manner into the arrogance of Adolph, an insecure and suggestible younger painter, and proceeds to chip away on the confidence in his spouse, his artwork and his life. However principally in his spouse, to whom he’s completely devoted.
Jonathan Rhys Williams’ Gustave speaks with a chillingly calm, seemingly pleasant confidence, however every thing he says is venomous, at first subtly however quickly much less so. He retains coming again to the concept that males shaping ladies is the pure order of issues, and any independence on the a part of a spouse is inherently emasculating. As Adolph’s older spouse Tekla is extraordinarily impartial and strong-minded, way more so than he’s, and flirtatious by nature, Gustave insists she’s making a idiot of him.
Joseph Patrick O’Malley compellingly portrays Adolph’s descent from a adoring and wryly self-effacing sense of relative contentment to a jittery, jealous frenzy as Gustave skillfully twists each chatty confession into poison for his coronary heart. Why Gustave is doing this can be a matter for in a while, however he does it deftly and completely with out mercy.
Gustave’s philosophy isn’t simply dismissed as being merely of its time; it’s rooted in a deep contempt for ladies and sounds unnervingly just like the form of misogynist bile you may hear “males’s rights activists” on Twitter spewing immediately. The title itself, a metaphor leaned on closely in dialogue, is based on an entitled sense of being owed one thing.
Rebecca Dines is a breath of recent air as Tekla when she lastly arrives, charismatic, playful and keenly perceptive. At the same time as meticulously poisoned in opposition to her as his perceptions have develop into, Adolph shortly succumbs to her allure and to his love for her earlier than his fastidiously nurtured insecurities come spilling out. Dines’ Tekla handles all this secondhand venom with cool, collected self-assurance, not letting on to no matter extent this sudden burst of jealous cruelty could harm her.
The play is relentless, each single scene a examine in both what to not say or what to not hearken to. Every of the three parallel conversations that make up this tragicomic psychodrama begins off nice and shortly turns into each unbearably merciless and nowhere close to letting up anytime quickly.
Director Barbara Damashek simply accentuates that discomfort with the smothering ambiance of her tense staging. Angrette McCloskey’s set of a sparsely furnished sitting room peppered with artworks in progress is all in pale off-white tones, as are most of Christine Criminal’s costumes, with Tekla’s gown the one actual splash of shade.
On occasion, Jim Cave’s moody lighting is taken over by blue streaks lining the partitions, combining with an electrical hum in Matt Stine’s sound design to counsel Adolph’s agitation rising into some form of match or seizure.
The seminal Swedish playwright Strindberg wrote “Collectors” in 1888, the identical 12 months as his extra well-known “Miss Julie” (which Aurora produced 10 years in the past), and that’s a pair of performs that might go away you with a fairly grim view of just about every thing.
It’s all terribly merciless and mean-spirited and harmful, however right here once more what saves it’s Tekla. Folks could bad-mouth her all play lengthy — and so they do — however she’s so self-evidently higher than her detractors are at life that the injury they do proves nothing (regardless of all Gustave’s philosophical bluster) besides how toxic bitter grapes may be.
Contact Sam Hurwitt at [email protected], and comply with him at Twitter.com/shurwitt.
By August Strindberg, tailored by David Greig, introduced by Aurora Theatre Firm
By means of: Feb. 24
The place: Aurora Theatre, 2081 Addison St., Berkeley
Working time: One hours and 40 minutes, no intermission
Tickets: $35-$70; 510-843-4822, www.auroratheatre.org