English Version: May-Brit Akerholt
Director: Joseph Uchitel
Producer: Sam Hawker
Set and Costume Designer: Karla Urizar
Composer: Max Lyandvert
Cast: Ben Ager, Linda Cropper, Patrick Dickson, Luisa Hastings Edge and Bojana Novakovic
…In this highly charged moment a youth suicide is enacted on stage with haunting sensitivity. Any ambivalence about its tragedy vanishes as in death the daughter speaks with directness not evident in life: "I didn't want to do it. I shouldn't have done it. I regret it."
Death Variations, perceptively translated by May-Brit Akerholt, is an intricate play.
Past and present intertwine… Emotional and psychological experiences are suggested as shaping destiny as well as character. Relationships, real and imagined, are critical to the texture of the piece. The text demands a tightrope be walked between the intensity of suppressed emotion and the banality of dialogue that masks hidden feelings. Fosse and Akerholt's translation excel in finding estrangement in familiar exchanges.
Joseph Uchitel's production walks this tightrope… the audience is trusted to find the unspoken in the text, the production soars.
Stark set design (Karla Urizar) and bold staging decisions achieve symbolic nuance.
Novakovic employs equal subtlety in early scenes but is exceptionally compelling when, in the last 10 minutes, text and production merge in exquisite harmony: the final unfinished sentence cutting something beautiful cruelly short.
Mark Hopkins, The Sydney Morning Herald
…in Norway the playwright Jon Fosse is reportedly dubbed their new Ibsen and even the new century's Beckett.
Soviet-born director Joseph Uchitel conducts Death Variations, and the intermingling of the six characters, with orchestral precision. A soundscape from Max Lyandvert punctuates this short chamber piece with effective exclamation and long cello sounds.
…Linda Cropper and Patrick Dickson… bring real depth to their grief… Bojana Novakovic is brilliant in the role… effectively translated by May-Brit Akerholt… Uchitel's skill [is] in restraining the abstractions and creating an ensemble truthful style. Death Variations has an icy clarity and yet a human warmth. Its production standards are also high…
Martin Portus, Sydney Star Observer
Fosse's Death Variations is a difficult, but nonetheless compelling and poetic study of one of our most complicated shortcomings as 'communicative' human beings.
Bojana Novakovic is mesmerising.
This is a beautiful production of a poetic but very real script whose dark resonances are perhaps more universal than we would like to admit.
Jo Higgins, State of the Arts
There is unpredictability, a non-comprehension and a sheer unbelievability that surrounds the actuality of death. Joseph Uchitel's production of Jon Fosse's Death Variations is a soulful and languid look at death and its affects.
… the European flavour is well and truly kept alive by May-Brit Akerholt's complex and creative translation. The expression and characters remain true to their European roots.
The language of this production envelopes and clings like fog and the characters take pleasure in pausing and in repetition. The pauses are full of meaning and seem to speak without words. Fosse's work does not spell things out, but instead allows the audience to find their own path. We look through the eyes of the humans on stage, living out their ordinary lives, full of the joy of birth, the anguish of a break up, and the helplessness of death, which affects both the living and the one who looks death in the eyes.
The space only comes alive when the characters are present. The uncluttered set's simplicity leaves an open platform for the audience to concentrate almost completely on the journey of the characters.
The production as a whole is slick and clean, while at the same time through the poetic language, the production is both sparing and indulgent with words, and always harrowingly honest.
Skye Crawford, Broadway Australia
East Coast’s Artistic Director Joseph Uchitel helmed the production and brought together an accomplished cast to perform the work. This was engrossing theatre, as Fosse mined the emotional depths of his characters.
David Kary, Sydney Arts Guide
Death Variations by Jon Fosse
in association with Company B at Seymour Centre