Review – Company

Project Arts Centre

Dublin Theatre Festival



Originally published on The Reviews Hub.

Published in 1980, Company seems an unlikely candidate for a stage adaptation, a radio play perhaps, but the story of a man lying alone on his back in the dark considering his past and current existence does not seem like a piece for theatre. However, since its publication, Company has prompted a number of dramatic adaptations, with a radio reading by actor Patrick Magee, a dramatized version at the National Theatre in London, and of course this production from Company SJ. Despite the relative stasis of the text, Company SJ brings Beckett’s prose to the stage of Project Arts Centre in an absorbing and affecting production.

In a costume that immediately calls to mind the most famous images of Samuel Beckett, Raymond Keane performs the role of narrator. He uses a puppet (beautifully designed by Roman Paska) to illustrate the actions and memories of the hearer as he recites the text alongside a recorded voice and projected passages. This breaking up of the text between live performance, recorded voice, and projection gave a strong sense of the fractured nature of the voice and the hearer’s conception of it. Though the text is quite cerebral and introspective, Keane breathes life into the words as he shares them, finding the balance between contemplative and narrative performance.

Particularly impressive in this production was Stephen Dodd’s lighting design. To create a described darkness with light is no small task, but Dodd conjures a shadow flitting space that illuminates the darkness of the text just enough to allow the audience in. Precisely catching Keane’s facial expressions in subtle tracts of light and anchoring the eye to the table in the centre of the stage, Dodd’s design harnesses the ephemeral to portray Company’s “dark place form and dimensions yet to be devised.”

There is a frustration in watching this production, as it lies between the conceptual and the embodied, in a liminal space between the inertia of the page and the action of the stage. But then again, is this state of limbo as we sit in the not-dark listening to a story of a man on his back in the dark inevitably and essentially part and parcel of entering a Beckettian space?

Runs until 7 October 2018 | Image: Futoshi Sakauchi



Cascando – Review

Pan Pan Theatre

Beckett Theatre


cascando pic

When I think of the words “radio play,” it is generally in conjunction with an image of the listener pottering around the kitchen, or perhaps curled up in a chair. This is evidently not the same for Pan Pan’s Gavin Quinn, who’s installation of Beckett’s Cascando is an unsettling, absorbing and intriguing journey through a reflective maze, both in terms of set and text.

First broadcast in October 1963, Cascando is a play for music and voice that circles around and overlaps itself in a short but potent exploration of sound, silence, language, identity, journey and storytelling. As the audience walks around Aedín Cosgrove’s labyrinthine, mirrored set, clothed in long hooded robes listening to the play through headphones, there is an odd combination of connectedness and isolation, playing with the disjointed flow of the text between Voice and Music. With only a few lights around the labyrinth, one’s eyes never quite adjust to the darkness, just as one can never quite adjust to the text. Just as Voice seems settled, the Opener calls a halt, and introduces the discordant and intense Music. This constant cycling and overlapping of Voice and Music, like the changing levels of light, means the listener is always alert, awake to both change and repetition.

Walking around the space, moving slowly towards a centre circle, catching glimpses of people through walls, with reflections and reality blurred, this is a truly immersive experience. As the audience slowly makes its way through the darkness, pausing at corners, unsure what is mirror and what is open space, cautious of bumping into each other, changing pace with the light and the text, one truly experiences the vacillating, uncertain journey of Woburn in this deeply immersive, yet personal and detached installation of Beckett’s Cascando.