Krister Henriksson sits on stage, casually dressed in jacket, chinos and sneakers, he talks with his eyes and his hands in a relaxed way, about his journey to the debut in West End and his life in general. By first glance you see how he belongs there, on stage in the West End. There’s a complexity to him that’s not only rare but unbelievable intriguing. He’s all the opposites you can find in one man, probably what made Inspector Wallander so human to us and why in fact Henriksson is the one that had to be Doktor Glas in the one-man stage adaptation of Hjalmar Söderberg’s haunting 1905 philosophical novel with the same name. “In the beginning of filming the Wallander series I tried to be Inspector Wallander. It’s like squeezing yourself in with a shoe horn. But after a while Wallander became me, and I was rather uncertain who was who in the end. We became one.”
The last time he played Kurt Wallander he spent the evenings in the hotel room in Ystad to read and really work with Söderberg’s novel, he processed and adapted it so that he could become Doktor Glas. “I can identify with both Wallander and Doktor Glas. It’s something about Nordic men. We work hard and we love the simple life, but yet there’s a longing and desire for something more. Both Wallander and Glass finds it very difficult to get close to another human being. I can identify with that. I’m a lonely soul as well, trying to reach out.”
Doktor Glas premiered on Vasateatern in the autumn of 2006, where it played to sold out houses, before it toured Sweden with the National Theatre and ended up as a sold out play at Dramaten 2011. Krister Henriksson’s expectations were modest but Doktor Glas was a huge critic’s and audience success, and it was a dream come true to be invited to the West End. “I’m nervous and of course I really want Doktor Glas to be a success in London as well. But to me personally, it’s always been a dream to be on stage in the West End so it’s feel like a success already.”
At the Leicester Square Theatre, producer Martin Witts told Go Scandinavian that it’s the rhythm of the Swedish language that really captured him with Doktor Glas, when he first saw the play in Stockholm. And so in terms of language there was no question that it had to be in Swedish when performed on stage in the West End. Henriksson agrees but thinks it’s not only the language but also the scenery, the Scandinavian nature which is large part of the play. Doktor Glas takes us through dusk of dawn over endless hills and fields, out to the open Baltic Sea, with an unexplained anxiety and yearning that are so frightfully present in many of us.
Directed by Henriksson and Peder Bjurman, Doktor Glas tells the story of a 19th century physician who falls madly in love with the beautiful young wife of a corrupt clergyman. When she confides in him that her marriage is making her miserable, he agrees to help in whatever way he can, driving the play towards its shocking climax.
Adapted from the novel by Hjalmer Söderberg and performed in its original Swedish with English surtitles, the one-man play will run at Wyndham’s from 16 April to 11 May 2013.
Henriksson is one of Sweden’s most highly respected and admired actors who made his breakthrough at the Stockholm City Theatre in the lead role of the Ibsen play Peer Gynt. He has since had a string of major roles on stages around the world, including working alongside Ingmar Bergman when he directed him in A Winter’s Tale at the Royal Dramatic Theatre (Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern). Later Bergman chose Henriksson for the role as the young Bergman in Liv Ullman’s film Faithless (Trolösa), which was based on Bergman’s manuscript.
In Wallander he played maverick detective Kurt Wallander in the original Swedish series adapted from Henning Mankell’s novels. The grittiness of his performance has won him plaudits from critics across the globe. It was subsequently adapted by the BBC for a British version starring Kenneth Branagh.
Scandinavia’s current impact on British culture looks set to continue when Krister Henriksson makes his West End debut co-directing and taking the lead in Doktor Glas. Martin Witts for London International Art Theatre told the press they hoped this would be the start of a series of Nordic plays in the West End.
And as for Wallander, Henriksson will feature in six new episodes, to be launched in 2013.
Venue: Wyndham’s Theatre, Charing Cross Road, WC2H 0DA (nearest tube Leicester Sq)
Dates: 16 April – 11 may 2013
Prices: £10-£65 (Group booking available)
More information to be found at drglas.com