• Sumo

Strindberg’s brilliant play The Father was on Radio 3 last night.

Times change. It is interesting to see how much difference a hundred years has made in how we understand the role and nature of women.

Here’s from a biography of Strindberg published here in 1913.

‘The callous egotism with which Laura kills her husband is shown by the
following words, with which she assaults him: “Now you have fulfilled
your function as an unfortunately necessary father and bread-winner,
you are not needed any longer, and you must go. You must go, since you
have realised that my intellect is as strong as my will, and since you
will not stay to acknowledge it.”

It is perhaps not unnatural that the Captain should throw a lighted
lamp at Laura after listening to this speech. But the speech itself is
certainly unnatural, and would be more in keeping with the sentiments
of a female spider–if that callous insect could formulate her
generative philosophy–than those of a woman. As a self-expository wife.’
Laura severely taxes our credulity.

And here’s from a Guardian review of a recent production:-

‘Katy Stephens also brilliantly follows a basic rule of acting by playing Laura from the character’s own point of view: not as a monstrous harpy but as a woman forced to adopt devious strategies in order to redress the imbalance of a patriarchal society.’