Monday, 26 August 2013

EIF 2013 - Beckett's I'll Go On, or Outstanding. Just Go.

After a disappointing two weeks of theatre, the International Festival is ending on a high with the Beckett mini-Festival if the first performances I've attended are anything to go by (and I still have Michael Gambon to look forward to on Saturday).

In advance I anticipated great things of this adaptation of Beckett's trilogy of novels, Molloy, Molone Dies and The Unnameable performed as it is by Barry McGovern who was outstanding in last year's adaptation of Watt. This show lives up to that promise.

As last year, McGovern is mesmerising. He delivers Beckett's superbly crafted text with expert precision, no mean feat particularly in the last part of the show when the pace is rapid and unrelenting. McGovern never loses meaning, but also brings out a whole range of emotions from humour (the ludicrous logical dilemma of the sucking stones is a high point) to the black despair. It's a masterpiece of acting. Around him a spare set and simple lighting provide just the right amount of atmosphere.

And yet up in the Upper Circle of the Lyceum there were a depressing number of empty seats. This makes me quite cross. I wonder if people think Beckett is all grim despair, or impenetrability. I can't say that before seeing Watt last year (my first exposure to his work) I was particularly keen on him given what I thought I knew (which on the showing of that and the works I've seen this year clearly wasn't very accurate). But as I hope I've already made clear this is funny, moving, thoughtful and brilliantly written and performed.

I make no bones about saying that this is the kind of International theatre that should be central to an International Festival. It is unmissable. Put aside your prejudices or uncertainties and get your tickets now.

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