The most remarkable aspect of this show is the direct communication with the audience and the eye contact that the actor, Conor Lovett, is constantly keeping with you. His energy, text mastery, clearness and humility are a pleasure to watch.
The environment is quite cold: the stage is black and empty with only two benches filling it, while the light is crude and subtle – a typical Beckettian staging. Lovett, also wearing black, shows up from one of the theatre doors; he walks on stage, sits down, takes a deep breath, lets a beautiful rhythm be installed in the room and starts his speech.
It is a story-telling exercise. The actor speaks Beckett’s words intimately as if he is telling us an episode of his real life. His communication skills are delightful and he is always trying to keep the spectators’ attention alert, as he reacts to accidents in the room, like someone coughing or a glass being spilled. Even though the concept of the production is pretty much this – a man telling a story – Lovett is capable of surprising us in the smallest and most delicious details. For instance, inside the story he plays various characters and his voice and body language keep changing. Also, the space is used as much as possible in a clever way.
Despite the actor’s effort, however, it is not always easy to follow the text. It is a long monologue and, as is expected, there are some up and downs. It might be easier to relate to it if you know the text in advance. Beckett’s short story is presented in a lighter way than usual, in the sense that there is a lot of humour in it. The interpretation given to text leads to people laughing a lot, not only at the funny elements already in the lines, but also at the atypical behaviour of the character.
The characteristic absurdity of the author’s words allows the audience to imagine circumstances for this character. The fact that everything is black reiterates even more this opportunity for the spectators to create images with what this production gives them.
Come to the theatre with an open mind, ready to receive the simplicity of this work But, above all, come ready to unveil all the hidden mysteries that Beckett always leaves in his texts and that Lovett (directed by Judy Hegartty Lovett) helps you to understand.
The End is playing at The Print Room as part of ‘Beckett in London’, which continues until 5 June. For more information and tickets, see the Print Room website. Photo: Ros Kavanagh