Tag Archives: Simon Bennison



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



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How it is (Part One) – 2.5 Stars


How it is (Part One)

Print Room at the Coronet

Reviewed – 4th May 2018


“At points it just feels as if the performers are reciting passages from the novel”


Gare St Lazare’s adaptation of Samual Beckett’s novel ‘How It Is’ at the Print Room at the Coronet is an intricate and interesting reimagining of the complicated and dense prose. To turn Beckett’s work, perhaps one of his most challenging texts, into performance is a mammoth task and director Judy Hegarty Lovett has a clear understanding of the ways in which to manipulate the performance space into one which can inhabit the intricacies of How It Is.

The story follows that of a man lying in the mud, repeating small moments of his life as he hears them, told to him by some other, mysterious voice. There is no real perception of time, place, or even person within the performance. The man is characterised through three actors: Conor Lovett, Stephen Dillane and Mel Mercier, and each is faultless in their performance. Lasting almost two hours, the performance consists almost entirely of spoken text, often with repeats and in an extremely minimalist writing style. As an audience member, there is an extreme level of concentration required in order to keep up with exactly what is going on through the veil of the ambiguous script. One can only marvel at the incredible stamina and sheer ability of each of the actors in maintaining an incredibly sleek performance with such a dense script.

The staging was especially interesting, with the audience sat on the stage and the performance happening over the two levels of audience seating and on the floor. The lighting, designed by Simon Bennison, was often dim but worked incredibly well with the concept of having the performance in the audience seating. The sound, composed by actor Mel Mercier, was also extremely atmospheric and really added to the performance.

All of the separate elements of this performance were outstanding, however when brought together they unfortunately lack the narrative and drama needed in theatre. At points it just feels as if the performers are reciting passages from the novel, standing or sitting still, with no real purpose. There are long passages in which actors speak over the top of each other, and whilst this is atmospheric at first, it loses traction when used repeatedly for five-minute intervals throughout the entire performance.

With no real visual stimulus to go on, the performance relies on the concentration and quick understanding of the audience to keep them engaged. All of the elements are there, but the adaptation for the stage is where the performance really lacks, often relying solely on the words of Beckett rather than using his language as a basis for a real, interesting performance which makes full use of the live and visual modes of theatre.


Reviewed by Charlotte Cox

Photography by Tristram Kenton


How it is (Part One)

Print Room at the Coronet until 19th May



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