Samuel Beckett intimidates people; hardly surprising, since he is the least flinching of twentieth century dramatists.
‘All That Fall’ faces up to the loss of all things yet somehow bids us smile at the fleeting, fragile thing that is existence.
Maddy Rooney’s day begins prosaically enough, as babes wake, cocks crow and cows moo, but as it wears on we are drawn into, in Pan Pan’s production, a soundscape in which she and those she encounters are disembodied voices in an aural landscape.
It’s a very distinct take on a uniquely Beckettian world, stripped of the few reference points offers to actors or audience. We’re in Dublin by the sound of it, but whether we’re on Sackville Street, Grafton Street, out along Dun Laoghaire strand (or more properly at Foxrock and Leopardstown) seems to be deliberately kept unclear in this production.
Of course, if all that is solid melts into air, this is only in keeping with the spirit of Beckett’s work, particularly so in the case of ‘All That Fall’.
Aine Ni Mhuri’s voice never falters throughout this hour-long work, and is more than enough to bring her character to vibrant life. She is ably supported by her fellow cast members, all of whom build not so much their characters but the play itself into a new thing.
Which, of course, is what all directors and companies must do. Gavin Quinn, encountering ‘All That Fall’, first as text in a second hand bookshop than as a study module during his college years, has created a radio play for a twenty-first century audience, using available space to project the actors’ disembodied voices around the auditorium (any irony on the last word used is not lost on the reviewer).
The extent to which this can work is, as ever, dependent on the audience, and on the day seen, confusion rather than comprehension seemed to predominate.
Ushered into a darkened space in which they had to find a rocking chair to sit on – an interesting seating idea for a presentation in which memory plays so large a part – a sense of discomfort was prevalent.
A pity, for Beckett’s text remains a rich experience, disturbing those parts of the psyche few other writers reach.
Til Monday 26 August, 2.30pm, 5pm, 7.30pm