Monday, 22 June 2015

All That Fall Review

Published in The Irish World newspaper 17/06/2015

It is impossible to compare All that Fall to any other production. Not only is it unique as a radio drama, but the over all delivery and theatrical experience as a whole is an awakening to the senses.

All that Fall forms part of the Barbican’s International Beckett season, and exudes all things Beckett by leaving the audience bewildered yet amused by its stylised approach to theatre.

The production felt dynamic and fresh however it stayed true to Beckett’s original wishes. The audience was first lead into a large darkened room lit only by hanging bulbs and a wall of dimmed spotlights. Each audience member sat on a rocking chair, which were all facing different directions in the room. Being a radio play, there was no stage, no live actors, no curtain and no sense of familiarity.

It seems Beckett likes his audiences to feel slightly uncomfortable in anticipation of his productions, and without any clues as to what they are about to experience.

When the spotlights finally darkened the room was plunged into darkness and the radio play began. All of a sudden you felt as if you were on the road with the lead character, as even the scratching of her walking stick against the stony ground could be heard and felt.

The radio play centres around Maddy Rooney. Rooney is an old over weight woman in bad health who has decided to surprise her husband Dan by meeting him off the 12:30 train. The play begins with her slowly drudging up Boghill Road. The characters and setting are all inspired by Beckett own childhood in Foxrock in Dublin.

During her laborious walk up the road she comes across three men, each character seems to have stared death in the face, either through their own experience or that of another.

Voiced by, Aine Ni Mhuiri, Maddy is a difficult and short tempered old woman but remains likeable through her wit and turn of phrase, a trait many of Beckett’s characters share.

Each character bring their own blend of audacity and intrigue to the story and allows you to ponder on Maddy and Dan relationship and the true meaning behind her sense of loss.

Although it was quite funny at times, it was peppered quite heavily with references to death, however these seem to be viewed with humour by Beckett who often diminishes the seriousness surrounding the subject.

Written in 1957 but only reaching audiences in 1986, All that Fall is comedy and tragedy diluted together to make a concoction only Beckett could produce.

The darkness of the room and glimmer of light to reflect the characters words or feelings transform your surroundings and leave you also sheltering from the rain which falls in Maddy and Dan at the end.

It transcends any singular genre and dips its toe into a bit of each leaving the audiences fully involved and emotionally stimulated.

All in all this is a complex radio drama but an experience to not to be missed.  If you were not sure about Beckett before now, this may be the play that changes your mind


All that Fall plays at the Barbican Theatre until June 21st.


Beckett on Screen: Love, Loss and Laughter

Published in The Irish World newspaper 17/06/2015

Many stage plays  which have been converted to the screen have often fallen flat on impact. Beckett’s work however, transcribes perfectly and allows for a more visual experience for the audience.

Beckett himself, adapted certain plays for the screen, and each of piece in this screening explore the theme of relationships in a riot of vivid costuming and make up.

Broken into three parts, the Love, Loss and Laughter screening featured  Ohio Impromptu starring Jeremy Irons, Play starring Alan Rickman, Kristen Scott Thomas and Juliet Stevenson and Happy Days starring ,the much celebrated Irish actress, Rosaleen Linehan.

Screened in Cinema 3 as part of the Barbican’s Beckett season this full course of cinematic artistry was a visual feast for the eyes.

Ohio Impromtu stars a sullen Jeremy Irons reading an extract from a book to another, more distressed, version of himself. His other self seems anxious as he reads and often interrupts the recital with an abrupt bang on the table from his fist. Both versions seem weary of each other and uncomfortable with the words being read. Beckett explores ones relationship with one’s own demons in this piece and the effect the mind and memories can play on a person’s own well being.

Play is a more obscure piece, set in a graveyard type scene with only the heads of its three main characters visible as they monologue about an adulterous experience shared between them. Each seem to be concealed from the neck down in giant urns with scorched and rotting skin, raising the question as to whether they are indeed speaking from the grave. This piece was skilful and effectual as each character tells their own version of the tale.

Happy Days was the longest film of the three. The play opens with Rosaleen Linehan immersed up to the waist in a mound of sand as she awakens to an unnerving bell sound. She makes the most of her desperate situation by taking out all of her belongings from her bag and occasionally trying to get her husband to engage with her, who is mainly absent from view as he bathes in the sun behind the mound. This was a powerful piece and truly displayed Linehan’s talents at their best.

Each piece was very different yet loyal to the theme of relationships and the complications they can bring. The cinematography, make up and costumes made for exciting viewing and

each actor’s delivery was haunting, disturbing but ultimately humane which Beckett seemed to influence through his unique way with words.

Beckett on Screen: Love, Loss and Laughter plays at Cinema 3 in Barbican until June 14th.