Sutherland took umbrage against the reviewers who dubbed Schmitt's plot preposterous and his own acting wooden and publicly attacked them in a highly emotional column in The Times last month. He accused many reviewers of being unnecessarily savage and personal instead of objective. The piece prompted defensive responses in other newspapers.
Enigmatic Variations marked the Canadian film star's return to the London stage after an absence of 36 years. In it, he plays a Noble Prize-winning author who has adamantly steered clear of love, contenting himself with hired sex brought over to his self-imposed exile on a Norwegian island. Having previously refused all requests for interviews, he decides to give in to one. The arrival of the journalist triggers a cascade of confrontations and discoveries that link the two men.
The journalist is played by Broadway veteran John Rubinstein who has accumulated a multitude of best actor awards - including a Tony, Drama Desk and Dramalogue - for his starring role in Children of a Lesser God. His other stage credits include Pippin, Love Letters, Hurlyburly and, most recently, Ragtime.
Sutherland first came to London in the 1960s to study theatre after graduating from the University of Toronto. His early stage roles in London, as part of Perth Rep, included August for the People with Rex Harrison (Royal Court, 1961), The Gimmick (Criterion, 1962) and Spoon River Anthology (Royal Court, 1964). On his return to North America, Sutherland went on to star in over a hundred Hollywood films including The Dirty Dozen, M*A*S*H, Klute, Ordinary People, JFK and the forthcoming Clint Eastwood film, Space Cowboys.
Directed by Anthony Page, Enigmatic Variations is translated by Donald's son, Roeg Sutherland, and designed by Ming Cho Lee. It comes to the UK following engagements in Los Angeles and Toronto. Prior to the West End, it had a short run at the Malvern Festival Theatre.