Two women – two actresses – run into each other in a restaurant on Christmas Eve. One is married and has been out shopping for presents for her family, the other is unmarried and is sitting alone in the restaurant reading magazines and drinking. Or maybe in our version it’s an alley way. Or is it 100 years after the apocalypse? Miss Y never speaks. Mrs X won’t shut up. As the play progresses, we discover that Miss Y and Mrs X are rivals for more than theatre roles – Miss Y is having or has had an affair with Mrs X’s husband.
On the surface, there’s nothing particularly complicated about Strindberg’s play. And yet, in this one simple scene Strindberg creates an episode of incredible, poetic power – a snapshot of life so intense, so powerful, that it rivals Beckett at his best. Like a Kafka short story, The Stronger is rich in allegory and lends itself to many layers of interpretation.
Written in 1889, The Stronger is a play about women who hurt each other in the face of the struggle it took them to get to where they are. Three years since #metoo a 132 year old play becomes a lens to investigate female relationships and what happens when we try to keep each other down to stay up top.
The play explores the societal obstacles and pressures women experience leading them to enact ‘mean girl’ behaviour. Played out in the intimacy of a ruined friendship between two women.
This new translation by Julia Landberg is set in Madeleine Albright’s hell for women who don’t support other women.
“There’s a special place
in hell for women who
don’t help each other.”