Week Two Reviews – Sketches Invented and Drawn

Sketches Invented and Drawn
Teater Dictat, Sweden
Outhouse at 7.30pm, Saturday matinee 4pm 

Johan Svensson has a lot of parts to play, a lots of countries to visit, lots of times to live in, and a lot of famous people to sleep with. He is telling (playwright) Matthew Short’s story. It is a play where he flips between playwright Short and Svensson the actor.  

Short has sent him a script with so many sexual encounters with historical icons ranging from Simeon Soloman the disgraced Victorian artist to ‘Bosie’, Lord Alfred Douglas, while Oscar Wilde voyeurs, and all of this while presenting Short’s meticulous research as he is rehearsing ‘Edward II’. 

It is a lot to take in but Svensson’s carefully placed narrative clearly sets it out. Set in a study, there is a lot of text on the desk and floor and we are treated to verbatim passages and voiceovers, taking us back in history and returning us to the present day. 

Magdi Saleh, director, chooses a very deliberate style in staging. The script is of such variety that it presents opportunities for a wide range of on-stage interpretations and approaches. Saleh heavily relies on the vevlety tones of Svensson which are at times hypnotic. Channeling the ‘Brideshead Revisited’ narrative style of an Evelyn Waugh period novel, the narrative in pure BBC wartime English, richly pronounced and projected by Svensson.

It is a well-paced play that brings us into the mind of the dramaturg and how he pieces all the fragments of stories and history and places them into contemporary circumstances to create a play. Positioning the hesitant actor into this emerging story, as he is in rehearsal for another classic. The text emphasises the sense of discovery that Svensson puts across well. 

Sketches can be drawn by an artist or invented by a writer. Writer, Short takes an interesting angle in this historical tour of the actor anxious to do justice to a play, he finds himself unexpectedly leading. Something quite different, with a lovely classical coating. 


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