Category Archives: Reviews

THE BECKETT TRILOGY

★★★★★

Coronet Theatre

THE BECKETT TRILOGY at the Coronet Theatre

★★★★★

“Lovett’s physical performance is totally captivating and anchors this exceptional work of theatre”

The Beckett Trilogy is a stage production of three of the Nobel prize-winning writer Samuel Beckett’s novels Malloy, Malone Dies and The Unnameable by the Gare Saint Lazare Ireland company. Adapted for the theatre by performer Conor Lovett and director and designer Judy Hegarty Lovett, the treatment allows the writer’s absurdist genius to shine through, the solo performer embodying all the isolation, confusion, pain, and emptiness that are the hallmarks of Beckett’s work.

Conor Lovett produces a central performance of pulsating power. Serving as a narrator for the stories, he slides effortlessly between quiet perplexity and deafening explosions of rage, mimicking the voices of other characters and patrolling the empty stage. The piece is also extremely funny: the characters’ various degraded interactions with authority, sexuality and death are described and the audience is invited to laugh at the farcical nature of life and Lovett elicits a rapturous response from the audience. While telling stories, he contorts himself into positions which are sometimes held, the performer appearing to forget how he has found himself in a pose, as he loses the thread of the narrative. Lovett’s physical performance is totally captivating and anchors this exceptional work of theatre.

 

 

The staging is minimalist, the first two sections featuring nothing more than an empty stage with a circular spotlight or a ring of light projected on the floor, the work of lighting designer Simon Bennison. The final piece of the trilogy sees a change. Lovett stands with a long drape hanging at the back of the stage and a spotlight before him, throwing an enormous shadow onto the drape. The position of the light illuminates his face giving him an otherworldly aspect and this lighting technique is especially effective when, passing a hand in front of himself, its shadow is thrown over his own face partially obscuring him from view. In this last section, Lovett remains largely in his position, as if unable to move from the spot, and it is here that the play’s focus on language as both essential to the human condition and utterly inadequate as a method of communication is clearest.

Within this set, the cyclical and thorny beauty of the writing flourishes. The language of the play is dense yet halting, stopping and starting, shouting, ruminating, equivocating and Lovett perfectly enacts Beckett’s assessment of human life. Facing the eternal questions of life and death, our answers can only be at best partial and repetitive, with many false starts and new beginnings that lead nowhere. This confusion and incompleteness is rendered both moving and funny. As the narrators pause, often losing their train of thought, they also ask questions out towards the audience, which hang unanswered, despite the response being clear to all those in the theatre: ‘what was I saying?’ ‘Where was I?’ The fractured dialogue between performer and audience places the spectator in a position akin to that of an unresponsive and uncaring universe that sees the plight of humanity yet does nothing to intervene.

The Beckett Trilogy is a masterful adaptation of work of the twentieth centuries’ great writers, by a company that has been described by the New York Times as ‘unparallelled Beckett champions’. On the basis of this performance, the title is certainly warranted.


THE BECKETT TRILOGY at the Coronet Theatre

Reviewed on 22nd June 2024

by Rob Tomlinson

Photography by Ros Kavanagh

 

 

 

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

THE YELLOW WALLPAPER | ★★★ | September 2023
RHYTHM OF HUMAN | ★★★★★ | September 2023
LOVEFOOL | ★★★★ | May 2023
DANCE OF DEATH | ★★★★★ | March 2023
WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN | ★★★★ | March 2022
LE PETIT CHAPERON ROUGE | ★★★★ | November 2021

THE BECKETT TRILOGY

THE BECKETT TRILOGY

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THE DAO OF UNREPRESENTATIVE BRITISH CHINESE EXPERIENCE

★★★★

Soho Theatre

THE DAO OF UNREPRESENTATIVE BRITISH CHINESE EXPERIENCE at the Soho Theatre

★★★★

“defies genres whilst remaining coherent and witty”

Written by Dan York Loh the piece is a thoughtful and vivid exploration of the experience of being mixed race in a working class British small town and also a reflection on Chinese philosophy, with further references to the legacy of economic austerity, lack of opportunities and alienation. The play features punk symphonies and psychedelic rock throughout. The actors tell the story of a character’s life, relaying personal events that make up the ‘unrepresentative experience’ of being mixed race in Britain. Interactions with memories and spiritual characters such as the Master of the Opaque are mixed into music and cheerful radio announcements for the EA Podcast. Directed by Alice Kornitzer, the show is in a free form style and the benefits of this freedom are utilised very effectively.

York Loh defies genres whilst remaining coherent and witty. Video projections paint the scene behind on the white walls of the set, providing abstract artistic visuals of the scenes. Composed by An-Ting Chang, the cast take up instruments to perform songs seamlessly and transitions are inventive and effective. During the midpoint the stage separates to reveal an octagonal screen, evoking a Pink Floyd gig as well as a wooden dock, emulating an older setting. The music is vibrant and sometimes angry. Songs about “The East vs West” and “Virtuosity” add to the reflective stream-of-consciousness style, whilst also being enjoyable musical moments. The base guitar hits through the lead’s oscillating notes whilst spoken word and lyrics are delivered.

 

 

The story utilises Chinese philosophy to talk about the narrator’s life, referencing the ‘Dao’ or ‘the way’ to talk about the various paths one can take in life. The character refuses to tell a cliche story, admitting they didn’t have a stereotypical upbringing; “lived in a 70s sitcom” and attended a Catholic school and stole cars. The play regularly breaks the fourth wall, addressing the audience and reflecting on how the show is being perceived; “far too indignant for subtlety”. The play discusses racism experienced by the narrator, in particularly, a haunting nursery rhyme is recited at various moments; “Chinese, Japanese, dirty knees, what are these”. The layers of this childhood insult are explored and dismantled. There are also reflections on crime, solidarity and the quest for identity. No and again there was some lack of clarity and some topics felt less explored than others. There was room for some tightening on the closing of the first act and as the writer says “the show’s already long enough”, but these issues don’t take away from the overall experience.

The actors portray the various spiritual characters flashbacks. Melody Chikakane Brown playing Master Obscure and Master Opaque with humour and wisdom whilst also portraying the main character in the flashbacks. Aruhan Galieva delivers impressive vocals and singing with energy and talent whilst also bringing levity through their flashback characters. Daniel York Loh plays guitar and minor characters, allowing the other performers to carry the major plot moments. The play is brilliantly unique and wonderfully performed, with the spirit of punk and rock permeating throughout.

 


THE DAO OF UNREPRESENTATIVE BRITISH CHINESE EXPERIENCE at the Soho Theatre

Reviewed on 21st June 2024

by Jessica Potts

Photography © Soho Theatre

 

 

 

 

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:

JAZZ EMU | ★★★★★ | June 2024
BLIZZARD | ★★★★ | May 2024
BOYS ON THE VERGE OF TEARS | ★★★★ | April 2024
SPENCER JONES: MAKING FRIENDS | ★★★★ | April 2024
DON’T. MAKE. TEA. | ★★★★★ | March 2024
PUDDLES PITY PARTY | ★★ | March 2024
LUCY AND FRIENDS | ★★★★★ | February 2024
AMUSEMENTS | ★★★★ | February 2024
WISH YOU WEREN’T HERE | ★★★ | February 2024
REPARATIONS | ★★★ | February 2024

THE DAO OF

THE DAO OF

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