This is a rare opportunity to see this little-known play by Strindberg, and a rewarding one, too.
Though relatively slight, it has a character all its own which emerges as unexpectedly beguiling in Dominic Dromgoole's handsome production for Oxford Stage Company.
Preconceptions about suicidal Nordic gloom - if indeed people even have preconceptions about Strindberg these days - can be safely laid to rest. And yet you certainly wouldn't think so from a description of the play.
Elis Heyst and his mother have been exiled to a small city following his father's disgrace and imprisonment for embezzlement. Elis, a teacher, has been obliged to take on Benjamin, the son of one of his father's victims, as both pupil and lodger.
Worse, the principal creditor, Lindkvist, suddenly shows up in town and could push the Heysts over the edge at any moment by claiming what is owed him. Now Elis's friend Petrus has plagiarised his work and publicly snubbed him - yet Elis's fianc>e Kristina declares that she wants to go to a concert with Petrus.
Only one thing, it seems, could make Elis's misery complete - the return of his younger sister Eleonora from the asylum to which he has committed her.
Yes, it sounds like a parody of Nordic despair. But the whole point is the way that events confound expectations, beginning with the fact that when Eleonora does return, her illness has entered a serene, Alice-in-Wonderland phase so charming that Benjamin instantly falls under her spell.
Kristina's disloyalty is shown in a different light, and when the moment of reckoning with Lindkvist arrives, it reveals that good deeds as well as bad ones can come full circle.
This uncharacteristically optimistic story of redemption and renewal comes heavily loaded with spring symbolism, lending atmosphere and meaning beyond words. It is very well acted, particularly by Bo Paroj as Elis, Frances Thorburn as Eleonora and Edward Peel in the remarkable role of Lindkvist - one single, compelling scene.
* Running time: One hour 50 minutes. Until Saturday.