19 October 2010

Review: The Beckett Trilogy

MIAF 2010
The Beckett Trilogy
Gare St Lazare Players Ireland
Melbourne International Arts Festival
15 October 2010
the Arts Centre, Playhouse

Three hours, one man, one writer – Go! Some people didn't make it, but so what; everyone else was spellbound.

I am embarassed to admit that The Beckett Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable has sat unread in my bookshelf for many years. Some of Beckett's plays sit nearby, but this trilogy of novels with their long dense text that rarely gives the breath of paragraph break, sat untouched with its unbroken virgin spine. Within a few moments of Coner Lovett walking onto the stage, I knew I was going to read Samuel Beckett's novels.

Coner Lovett has performed 19 Beckett roles in 24 Beckett productions in theatres all over the world and my raving opinion can only agree with every rave review that I've read. He has performed in the plays, but found his reason to be on stage when he developed performances of the novels.

Guided by director Judy Hegarty Lovett, he brings voice to these novels; a voice so authentic that I heard it again as soon as I opened a page of Malloy. He brings the space and hesitation and nuance to the text and gives it a life so vivid that his will be Beckett's voice in my head from now on.

The performance is an empty stage, where a baldish man in variations of a black overcoat with brown scuffed shoes stands, with his feet turned out, in three spotlight variations. With nothing to distract, the details of how he stands or the mirrored hand gestures in each piece become vital and beautiful. And the text...I had no idea Beckett was so funny and so bleak (and I thought I loved Beckett before.) I left with images like a parrot saying "Fuck the son of a bitch" and green tea with saccharine and powdered milk, and the voice of a man hoping that he finds death a change.

There were times in Malone Dies where I drifted (possibly because it was in the third person, so not quite as personal), but it didn't matter, as it was so easy to just watch Coner perform, and even coming back to the text half way, it's so rich and evocative that missing a bit of plot didn't hurt.

I've seen some terrific shows this festival, but I think The Beckett Trilogy is the one I'll remember.

This review appears on AussieTheatre.com

Photo by Roz Kavanagh

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