Revival of Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage 'a grisly treat'
Trevor Nunn revives Bergman's bruising marriage drama with brilliant acting from Olivia Williams
What you need to know A revival of Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage has opened at St James Theatre, London. Sir Trevor Nunn directs the Joanna Murray-Smith stage adaptation of Bergman's 70s TV drama, which Nunn last directed in 2008.
When Bergman's drama appeared on Swedish television in 1973 it allegedly caused Scandinavian divorce rates to double. It charts the disintegration of the marriage between a power couple, neurologist Johan and divorce lawyer Marianne, through a series of scenes spanning a decade of their lives.
Mark Bazeley (Alistair Campbell in The Queen) plays Johan and Olivia Williams (The Ghost Writer) is Marianne. Runs until 9 November.
What the critics like This is a "superlatively well-acted production", says Paul Taylor in The Independent. Williams brilliantly shows Marianne as a witty, shrewd and intelligent woman struggling against neediness and confusion, while the excellent Bazeley nails the emotional evasiveness and narcissism of Johan.
Scenes from a Marriage is "a grisly treat" according to Tim Walker in the Daily Telegraph. What could be an unbearably bruising work is redeemed by its warped sense of humour.
"Olivia Williams doesn't often grace the London stage, and her performance here leaves one wishing she did so more," says Henry Hitchings in the Evening Standard. There's strong chemistry between her and Bazeley and this absorbing piece of theatre gets under your skin.
What they don't like Williams and Bazeley are not just good, they are lacerating, but "they are many times better than the play", says Lyn Gardner in The Guardian. The script signals everything so unsubtly that it is easier to loathe Marianne and Johan than to pity them. ·