Strindberg’s The Father at Abbey Theatre, St Albans

WHEN Strindberg wrote one of his best-known plays, The Father, over a century ago there was no such thing as a DNA test to establish a child’s parentage.

And that uncertainty is at the heart of the next production from the Company of Ten which finds a military captain and his wife Laura bitterly disputing the future of their daughter Bertha.

The captain thinks his views should prevail and in a heated exchange, his wife causally asks how he knows for certain that he is actually Bertha’s father.

Initially he is dismissive but the idea takes hold and when he recalls that his apparently-barren wife suddenly became pregnant after she discovered that she would not inherit any of his estate unless she bore him a child, the idea becomes an obsession.

Strindberg’s naturalistic play, which the Company of Ten is performing in the Abbey Theatre Studio from next Friday, March 25, to Saturday, April 2, is a narrative, peppered with autobiographical references, of the struggle between the sexes; the all-heroic male who is manipulated and finally emasculated by the shrewd, deceptive wife – or is he?

Performances begin at 8pm and tickets are available from the box office on 01727 857861 or online at