Sunday, July 14

The Beckett Trilogy – Coronet Theatre

How much Beckett is too much Beckett? For performer and producer Conor Lovett it seems the limit may not exist. His prodigious memory and inexhaustible articulation are well displayed in this production of three plays from the novels Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable all written by Samuel Beckett.

Alone on stage but very much confederate with a captive audience eager to absorb what they can from his nearly three-hour monologue, Lovett is tremendously impressive and knows it too. Directed and designed by Judy Hegarty Lovett, his conspirator in Gare St Lazare Ireland, a touring production company specializing in “presentations” of Beckett’s various works.

The style of this production is extremely presentational and clearly preoccupied with faithful interpretation of the great Irishman’s works. In fact, very little about this performance feels experimental. There are of course jarring silences, surprising exits, and non-sequitur soliloquies, but in regarding them one feels very much as if all this has been preordained not by the performer or director but by the writer himself. Lovett’s supreme confidence underscores this illusion, and his seamless command of the text is only matched by his easy rapport with the audience. This is no mean feat considering the running time of the piece.

Stalwart audiences can expect to sit through an hour-long opening act, take a 20 minute intermission, file back into the theatre for a 55 minute second act, and enjoy a short pause of five minutes before Lovett recommences with a 40 minute closer. The three texts pair well together and Lovett approaches each so forcefully that even the minor adjustments to his costume pieces between acts seem wholly unnecessary in creating distinctions between them.

This is not the type of solo performance that wows audiences with technical witchcraft or chameleonic mimicry in performance. Although Lovett’s considerable endurance should be lauded, it is not that either which sway audiences to his rhythm but rather that absolute ownership he claims over the text which makes him impossible to look away from.

Under Simon Bennison’s lighting design he is minutely transformed in each role but makes no great show of adjusting accent or affect. It is a feat to remain focused for the length of time this performance demands of audiences, and it is certainly not Beckett for beginners, but neither is it in the least unintelligible. Gird yourself for a long haul but don’t get your hopes up for a happy ending. If you can endure it, enjoy it.

Reviewer: Kira Daniels

Reviewed: 20th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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