Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Swedish Wallander comes to London's West End

The lovely Krister Henriksson.
Photo: Baldur Bragason / Yellow Bird
I've been a fan of Krister Henriksson long before he became the Swedish Wallander, but it's in this role of the moody detective created by Henning Mankell that the actor is best known here in the UK.

This is about to change.

I met Krister today at the Leicester Square Theatre where he held a press conference to talk about his forthcoming performance at Wyndham's Theatre of Doktor Glas, a play based on the Swedish classic novel by Hjalmar Söderberg. It's a play about sex, passion and murder. As Krister put it, 'My favourite director Truffaut said that all a good play needs is a man, woman and a gun. Doktor Glas has two men, one woman and some arsenic.' 

Krister Henriksson as Doktor Glas.
Photo: Baldur Bragason / Yellow Bird
Doktor Glas has been a sell-out success in Sweden, as well as in the other Nordic countries, including Finland where it was performed in the original language, just like here, with surtitles. When I asked Krister why he chose this play in particular to break his run of Wallander, he said it was a play which had made a deep impression on him at a young age. 'Somehow I knew one day, when I was old enough, and brave enough, and enough experience as an actor and as a human being, I'd do this play.' 

About playing it in Swedish he jokes, 'I offered to do it in English, but once they heard how badly I speak it, they said, 'No,no'. It was an offer the producers loved to refuse.' Of course this isn't true; Krister's English is impeccable (although I preferred to interview him in Swedish). Krister added that he loves the way Söderberg uses Swedish, which is why its important for him to perform the play in its original language. 'I've often regretted being born in a country with such an ugly language, especially when I was younger I thought why couldn't I have been born, for example, in England. But when you read and perform Söderberg, you see how beautiful the Swedish language can be.'

Doktor Glas is a tough play for an actor. It's a one-and-a-half-hour monologue, where Henriksson portrays three tragic characters. There's no interval, no time to collect oneself. But Krister says that although he's a 'lazy actor' he loves playing Dr Glas. 'When I enter the stage, the time just flows by. I may be lazy, but I love being on stage. The longer I'm on there, the better.' At sixty-five he certainly looks energetic, youthful and very charming. He also told me that there have been plays that he's got bored doing - but not this one. 'Hjalmar Söderberg is such a wonderful writer, you can read this novel over and over and still find something new.'

Several times, while I was interviewing him, and particularly when I asked about the differences between doing Wallander and Doktor Glas, he had a glint in his eye that I dare any woman to resist. 'Oh, you know the Doctor and Wallander are very similar. Both are Scandinavian men, who may be very good at their jobs but when a woman enters the room, they freeze. I'm sure Finnish men are the same?'

I could but nod, especially when he continued, 'Of course then they have a drink and become bold and then it all goes horribly wrong.' 

Sadly just at this point, the lovely James from the PR company gave me the 'wrap it up' sign. I'd only asked half of my prepared questions, and we were just getting to the good bits!

But the great Swedish actor was in great demand, so I rushed to get a picture of me and Krister, and as we parted with a kiss he said, 'We'll meet again, yes?'

I swooned.
Krister and me earlier today.
(Sorry about the photo - I had camera fail)

Doktor Glas will be at the Wyndhams Theatre
16 April - 11 May 2013
Mon-Sat 7.30 pm
Wed 2.30 pm & Sat 5 pm
Tickets: 0844 482 5120 (from 24 Sep 2012)

A new translation by Paul Britten Austin with a foreword by Margaret Atwood of the novel Doktor Glas by Hjalmar Söderberg was published by Harvill in 2002. 
ISBN 1 84343 009 6

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I've been an admirer of his work for over 10 years,and now run his official Facebook group. I'm delighted that he's going to get the chance to work over here. He is fantastic on stage....and you're right he is utterly charming. Theatregoers are in for a treat :)