Adapted and directed by Christopher Samuel Carroll
From the novella by Albert Camus
Bare Witness Theatre Company
Ralph Wilson Theatre, Gorman Arts Centre to 17 December
Reviewed by Len Power 9 December 2021
‘The Stranger’, a 1942 novella by French Algerian, Albert Camus, has been hotly debated ever since its publication in 1942. Considered to be an example of Camus’ philosophy of absurdism coupled with existentialism, Camus himself rejected the existentialism label.
It therefore takes some courage to adapt this work to the stage as a one man show when so many people see it differently.
The story focusses on Meursault, a French settler in Algeria. At his mother’s funeral he shows no emotion and when, later, he kills an Arab on a beach, his lack of remorse for his mother is remembered and used against him at his trial for the killing.
Sentenced to death, Meursault’s story is told by him in two parts, before and after the killing. We begin to form a picture of this man and judge him but his story unsettles us. We find ourselves examining our own dealings with the people in our lives, the compromises we have made in society, the importance we have given to outward appearances, our emotional reactions and the moral values that we hold.
Christopher Samuel Carroll’s adaptation powerfully retains the spirit of the original story. Keeping the language simple and matter of fact, he avoids adding extra light and shade to his delivery. This is a man having a raw, uncensored discussion with himself. He is not speaking to us directly.
Even though the character is French, the ideas presented are universal, so Carroll’s normal speech works perfectly here and his skilfully measured voice engages our imaginations so adeptly that we create the colour inherent in the story.
The presentation is simple. The acting area is a strip of lightly patterned floor covering with audience members on both sides. The subtle lighting by Gillian Schwab follows the actor as he paces around, providing all of the atmosphere needed.
As well as providing a highly successful adaptation of the story, Christopher Samuel Carroll is a formidable acting presence in this marathon role. Once read, Camus’ novella stays with you forever. This production is equally memorable and not to be missed.
Not surprisingly, extra performances have been added due to demand for tickets. The show now runs until 17 December.
Len Power's reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in the ‘Arts Cafe’ and ‘Arts About’ programs and published in his blog 'Just Power Writing' at https://justpowerwriting.blogspot.com/.