Death at Intervals reminds us of what we already know: we each have our own death; it belongs to us and we belong to it. Adapted and directed by Kellie Hughes from the novel of the same name by José Saramago, this adaptation is theatre stripped back to the essentials. Raymond Scannell is a concert pianist and composer, doomed to a life of isolation and contemplation, redeemed only by music. Olwen Fouéré has been watching him. She knows there is something uniquely special about him which he fails to realise. She is going away soon, but she must give him this letter.
Michael Cummins’ set is almost bare, consisting only of Scannell’s piano and a wooden staircase. His lighting is stark, delicately highlighting the edges of the piano and the actors’ bone structure, hinting at the skulls beneath their skin. Raymond Scannell and Alma Kelliher’s score and sound design is stunning, expertly commanding our emotional responses every time Scannell sits down at the piano. Costume Design by Niamh Lunny is effective, though I would have liked to see more of Fouéré’s beautiful physique. Death at Intervals is my first time seeing Fouéré perform – she deserves every accolade and every bit of praise she has garnered. Fouéré loves what she does, embodying her character with gravity, vulnerability and incredible vocal ability. Scannell, too, is a joy to watch, for the most part holding his own against Fouéré, which is no mean feat. His acting could do with being heightened slightly to match Fouéré’s energy. Scannell is perfectly cast and his piano playing is nothing short of sublime – anything extra is a treat.
Death at Intervals is brilliantly adapted to its Smock Alley setting. It’s simple, unsettling and captivating. Bravo to all involved.