Review: The Kreuzter Sonata (Soulpepper)

Toronto’s Soulpepper Theatre Company presents The Kreuzter Sonata, inspired by Beethoven‘s sonata and Tolstoy‘s novella, taking us on a journey through a marriage filled with obsession, rage and jealousy. The Kreutzer Sonata plays at The Young Centre for the Performing Arts till August 6th, 2011.

I had pretty big expectations for this play for several reasons. First of all, I have heard great things about it for at least a year now since it played at the SummerWorks Theatre Festival in 2010. Then there’s the fact that it’s based on a novella by the great writer, Leo Tolstoy. And if that wasn’t enough, it also incorporates the music of one the classical masters, Beethoven.

Adapted and performed by the one man powerhouse, Ted Dykstra, this show is an emotionally-charged ride that will keep you at the edge of your seat with a combination of anticipation, and at times, fear.

The set is simple. Ted, who plays Yuri, sits in an armchair as he tells us his story. The only other prop is a small side table where he keeps a glass and pitcher of water. It feels like a tumbler of whisky might be more appropriate, but you get the idea.

During the play I feel like he is having a conversation with me, personally. He is so intense in his narration that I’m scared to look away or even shift in my seat. There isn’t a moment during the show where I feel like I’m watching an actor, not a single one.

Instead, it’s like I’m sitting in my slightly deranged friend’s study late at night with him recounting his tale of crazed jealousy that turns his life into a living nightmare.

The show deals with the power of music in its ability to corrupt its listener by evoking various emotions and the ugly demons that live within us all. It also looks at how lust drives people; how sex is used a tool of manipulation; and how sharing a musical experience can create a bond between two individuals. It explores the idea of intimacy equating to infidelity and how irrational jealousy can be.

His costume is a silk robe and bedroom slippers. There are no shocking theatrics, over-the-top sets or attention-grabbing lighting techniques. Ted Dykstra and his brilliant acting are all the show needs. He delivers every line with such conviction that he infects me with every emotion he feels. It’s a whirlwind of anger, jealousy, blinding rage, guilt and lust.

My show partner that afternoon was my mom, who loves both Beethoven and Tolstoy. She went in to this show as a true critic, ready to call out any detail that didn’t live up to her expectations. After the show she said, the acting blew her away and it was better than she expected. She hasn’t seen a theatre show in over a decade and was completely floored by this performance. I guess this means I’ve secured one more audience member for the Toronto theatre scene.

I hope I’ve convinced you to see this piece. It doesn’t matter if you hate Tolstoy or have never heard a Beethoven symphony. You have to see Ted Dykstra and the terrifyingly amazing ride he can take you on.


  • The Kreuzter Sonata
  • Adapted, Directed, and Performed by Ted Dykstra
  • Originally commissioned and produced by Andrew Burashko
    for Art of Time Ensemble.
  • Runs until August 6, 2011 at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts, located at 55 Mill Street, Building 49, in the Distillery Historic District.
  • Tickets range from $28 – $34 (plus HST) and are available by calling the Young Centre box office at 416.866.8666 or by visiting


Photo credit to Cylla von Tiedemann. In photo: Ted Dykstra