McGovern in fine Beckettian form


SAMUEL BECKETT weak punctilious in his choice of media. That which he wrote for the page was to be read and that for the stage performed. Different kinds of performances were needed for work prepared for radio or television or films.

Sarah Jane Scaife ought to have known better than to try to adapt Company for the stage. Beckett's descriptive words about a man lying down in darkness hearing voices (one apparently addressed to him about scenes from his child hood, the other a third party going on about his or someone else's current situation) are more accurate and more comprehensive than can be imitated or inconsistently fudged - in actors' actions. The actions and illuminated images - are thus conflicting and distracting when not merely superfluous to the text. Text and performance both lose out, and the audience would have been better to have read it all at home with the personal intonations of private imaginations.

Much more to the dramatic point last night, in a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the author's birth, was a nicely honed production of Krapp's Last Tape, with Barry McGovern in fine rheumy form as the banana eating, drink swilling old man going over spool five from box three of his recorded life. His father dead his mother is laid to rest behind the pull down of a blind in the nursing home, and a reluctant farewell is paid to love in a punt in the waterside flags. Pausing only to re hear the brief "love" scene (as the text requires), McGovern spews out rejection of the past in fine Beckettian form, directed by Ms Scaife and adventurously lit by Rupert Murray.