The Ghost Sonata

From one Strindberg play to another: my next theatrical outing was to the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans, in order to see a production of The Ghost Sonata. This extremely strange play is peopled with ghostly spectres and unexplained sightings, and the atmosphere is distinctly gothic; yet beneath the horror, Strindberg has woven a distinctly human tragedy.

Admirably performed by an amateur but incredibly talented cast, it is the story of a student, Arkenholz, who longs to get inside an apartment building which is home to a family that he idealises. Introduced to the family by the mysterious Jacob Hummel, he soon realises that all is not as it seems. Ghosts walk in daylight; a woman is transformed into a mummy and lives in the closet; and the household cook grows fat sucking all the goodness out of the food before she serves it to the family. The spooky happenings act as metaphors for the suffering that the family undergoes. One of the oddest plays I’ve seen, but highly memorable.


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