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Little Eyolf

Little Eyolf (2018) is a theatre production by Ibsen Theatre, based on the play by Henrik Ibsen. After the opening in Skien, the production was supposed to be performed on tour.

Silvia Rieger directed it.

Mari Dahl Sæther played the role of Rita Allmers.

Stian Isaksen played the role of Alfred Allmers.

April 23 the remainder of the tour was cancelled, due to death in the family of one of the actors.


(Objekt ID 81304)
Object type Production
Premiere April 12, 2018
Produced by Ibsen Theatre
Based on Little Eyolf by Henrik Ibsen
Audience Adults
Language Norwegian
Expressions Theatre, Drama
Running period April 12, 2018  

At the website of Ibsen Theatre the following, among other things, is written about Little Eyolf:

"For your information:

When we hired the German director Silvia Rieger to stage Little Eyolf we knew two things:

1. The production would be uncompromising.
2. The production would be an experience its audiences would remember.

We have achieved this.

After the rehearsals with spectators and the dress rehearsal, it seems clear that the performance provokes and exhausts, it delights, and it challenges. Several express that they feel physically worn out after the performance, both due to the high volume of sound, and because so large parts of the performance are hard to interpret or understand. But also because of the themes and content.

Our Little Eyolf challenges the audiences' view of theatre, and their view of Ibsen. It confuses, and it surprises, and it provides no textbook understanding to how it is to be interpreted or experienced. It leaves most to you, as a spectator.

Thus: Keep your mind open. If you like Ibsen the way you have always seen him, if you prefer historically correct costumes and a naturalist acting style: Stay at home. If you prefer to be surprised and challenged: Do come. But by all means, let us know what you think!


Little Eyolf may be Ibsen's most mysterious, magical and dark play. A drama about losing a child, losing oneself - and being resurrected again.

Alfred Allmers just came home from a trek in the mountains. His trip has given him new insight: Instead of completing his thesis on 'human responsibility', he will be responsible as a human- through taking better care of his handicapped son, Eyolf.

Eyolf is partially paralysed after having fallen off the changing table when he was a baby. The reason why the married couple Alfred and Rita weren't watching him, was that they had sex. Thus, Eyolf limps around as a chronic reminder of his parents' neglect.

Sexual relations between the couple are near dead, to Rita's despair. The child stands in the way. Straight out, she says she wished she had never given birth to him.That is when The Rat Wife comes knocking, asking if there might be something eating at the family home...


The German director Silvia Rieger has worked for the prestigious theatre Volksbühne in Berlin for 25 years. She recently staged, and played the title character of, King Lear at the theatre's main stage. She brings her regular stage designer, Italian Laurent Pellissier."


Ibsen Theatre, 24.04.2018, teateribsen.no, http://www.teateribsen.no/index.php?page_id=4697

Performance dates
April 12, 2018Klosterøya – Opening night
Press coverage

Svante Aulie Löwenborg, The Allmers, Norsk Shakepearetidsskrift April 2018:

"In Skien, Thursday April 12, a bomb struck, in the shape of an avant-gardist theatre production hardly anybody in Norway had seen the like of. (...) Thus, one can easily imagine that the Allmers family keep running on empty, as filled with lies, death and agoraphobia 20-30 years later, as grotesquely twisted, as when it is played out. A good production of Little Eyolf points out this tragic future. In this, too, Ibsen is still rooted in an allegorical tradition. For this is about so much more, it is about why grand projects come into being. Why society looks the way it looks. (...) This very thing director Silvia Rieger knows well. All the time, she underlines this falsity. It is dark, and it is comical, it is drawn out and terrible. All at the same time. Several of the scenes are almost unbearable. Others are wonderfully comically enlarged. Rieger also makes frequent use of texts by the critical-of-society Jens Bjørneboe and some of Ibsen's predecessor Søren Kierkegaard, the Christian ethicist and former existentialist. From Ibsen's text, images remain, a representation of the characters, and relatively few lines from the manuscript. The lines that remain are ripped to pieces in a manic-depressive/manic-comical way. And she has brought her five actors to where the knots burn. They yell, they relive, they act as aggressive, alcoholised wrecks. In a scene, they toast everything and all with glasses made from paper. They perform the same movements in a seemingly endless repetition. They are anxiously concerned with doing everything good again. When Allmers drag a huge table around the stage, while yelling that porridge made from sour cream tastes good, it is as empty as it is when Ibsen is promoted as a national bard without thinking of the essence of his writing."

Fredrik Rutter, Total skivebom (literally: Total miss), Tønsbergs Blad April 23 2018 (two pips on the dice):

"Director Silvia Rieger has long experience from Volksbühne in Berlin, where the legendary Frank Castorf ruled for 25 years. His theatre was a strong exponent for director's theatre, where the director more or less played the leading role. That, director Rieger most certainly does in this version of Little Eyolf.  For her, Ibsen's lines didn't suffice in conveying her purpose. She has filled in with a lot of text by the gentlemen Jens Bjørneboe and Søren Kierkegaard. This in such an expanse, it almost drowns out Ibsen, and one needs to know Ibsen's play extremely well to know it, when text from Little Eyolf is what is performed. The acting style is also extreme. It is spoken, no, it isn't, it is yelled, throughout 120 minutes, at a level that has one sit exhausted in one's seat after only forty minutes. The theatre provides earbuds to those who wish for it. The well-meaning idea of meeting this with an open mind is running thin. (...) Director's theatre has more or less gone old-fashioned, even in Germany, so one wonders what the reasons for the theatre's artistic director's choice is. It doesn't quite suffice to think that Skien deserves an artistic breath from the grand Europe, when the breath is outdated. Indeed, it is correct that the theatre has achieved an uncompromising performance, but this doesn't imply that the performance is any good. Nobody onstage seems to be anything more than a caricature or a marionette. There is yelling and screaming and sobbing, and often lines are entirely incomprehensible."

Vendy Berg Hegle, Absurd og utmattende galskap (literally: Absurd and exhausting madness), Varden April 13 2018 (two pips on the dice):

"Rieger presents Little Eyolf as an absurd and expressionist contemporary drama- with acts of toasting and throwing cream, glitter, a dash of cultural criticism, a Rat Wife in polar bear costume and a lot of talk about porridge made from sour cream. There is screaming, yelling and repetition. In an increasing degree, the characters seem like raging children on the very edge of what is possible. A childish expression also characterises the stage design and costumes. Rieger pushes the patience of the audience, and their limits. For instance, Asta, Alfred Allmers' sister, put into an intense, singing dance lasting for half an hour, reportedly as an expression for mourning - while her suitor Borgheim yells something, as highly and as clearly that I am unable to hear what. A sigh of relief escaped the auditorium when the scene was over. What impresses me greatly is the actors. They turn their insides out and perform the madness with conviction and a strikingly stamina. The absurd acts surprise and they make the chaotic performance entertaining at times, but the themes of mourning, self-examination and regret - the meaning of life, for that sake- drown in noise and incomprehensive ideas, in my opinion. When the characters towards the end reach a kind of insight, I am so exhausted I am unable to digest it."