Swanwhite, by August Strindberg, British Premiere
Gate Theatre, London

‘This charmingly peculiar fairytale shows how much there is of Strindberg that most of us know absolutely nothing about. I first became aware of Walker in Cheek by Jowl’s sublimely funny ‘A Family Affair’ eight years ago. This is the image that can now be replaced, or at least joined, by that of someone who has managed to create on his directorial debut, a passionate tale of love among the archetypes. More than simply offering a fascinating glimpse of fin de siecle drama the play provides its cast with vivid characters to create and a language to do so that is reminiscent of meadows and medieval gardens; fire rages, seas pound, a brace of dead mothers brings blessings. It could all be perfectly absurd but isn’t, because of the cast’s convincing habitation of their roles. On Gemma Fripp’s set, with its sense that menace lurks in the shadows, the three candle holding servants look as if they have stepped from an 1890’s children’s book. Apt image for Strindberg’s dip into the pools of myth.’
The Times

‘Fascinating London revival … Timothy Walkers production has a darkling, disturbing quality. The pantomime elements of wicked stepmother (Richenda Carey), the prince in the Blue Tower (Jason Morell) and the eponymous repressed heroine (Jules Melvin) are beautifully stated against a background of fire, destruction and the strange prattle of three subservient subversives (Amanda Bellamy, Sally Bentley, Deborah McLaren).‘
The Observer

‘Highly charged eroticism … In the sinister murk (fastidious lighting by Zerlina Hughes) lurk imps and sprites who then flit across the black soil floor. Scattered furniture suggests a child’s playroom — and a graveyard. Gemma Fripp’s design is the landscape of a nightmare recalled in the shock of adulthood. Debut director Timothy Walker balances the sensual with the cerebral and pin-points bleak humour. A production of vicious beauty.’
Time Out

‘At the moment August Strindberg’s Swanwhite is actually receiving its British premiere here, a rather astonishing thought that puts one close to the audiences who found the dramatists work so controversial (when it was new, even if this play gave him one of his best successes.)
He can still shock. The very genre of the piece, a ‘fairy tale for adults’, is disarming, in the manner of the Dennis Potter play where the adults romp in children’s togs.’
Financial Times