Novel by Samuel Beckett, text selected by Barry McGovern
Directed by Tom Creed
Featuring Barry McGovern
Under the Radar Festival / Gate Theatre Dublin Production
The Public Theater, 425 Lafayette Street
production web site: http://www.undertheradarfestival.com/index.php?p=230
Reviewed by Martha Wade Steketee
January 8, 2011
This piece is in America as part of the Imagine Ireland festival of contemporary Irish arts in the US for the 2011 calendar year. This intermissionless 50 minutes experience is a product of the Gate Theatre Dublin and its long illustrious history, refined in prior engagements, honed by compelling performer and leading interpreter of Beckett Barry McGovern, and deeply experienced director Tom Creed. The piece is a monologue, lit and costumed and scored sparely and effectively by designers Joan O’Clery, James McConnell, and Denis Clohessy. And it’s all about the words. As with all Beckett in my experience, it’s all about the words. How they sound, what humor lies beneath, what images they evoke. Not so much about a detailed experience that is relayed with those words or with elaborate stage actions or with reflective analysis. Words and actions and descriptions. Voice and sounds and simple sights and a delightful accent provided by Mr. McGovern.
McGovern is the narrator and sole performer of the piece about a house servant who takes a train journey and begins and ends a time of service in the country. The narrator begins his tale with words that evoke for me my response, always, to Beckett on the page and on the Stage.
“The only way to talk about nothing is to speak of it as if it were something.”
Right. This is indeed something about nothing, charmingly stated, crafted anew from sections of Beckett’s novel written during WWII and published in 1953. We hear portions of an already fragmented novel. We’re not enlightened about a core truth of human existence but rather have shared a train journey, a walk, a confused entry into a house, a series of observations by a house servant. That is all, as if it were something.
© Martha Wade Steketee (January 12, 2011)