Review Beckett in the City: The Women Speak: Product recognises playwright’s sense of empathy | Tiger Dublin Fringe

Beckett may be no liberator, but he best understood our cages

Beckett in the City: The Women Speak
Coláiste Mhuire, Parnell Square

With his legendary restrictions on the female form – reduced to the frantic mouth of Not I, obedient footsteps in Footfalls, a mollifying rocking chair in Rockaby, a shuffle of motion in Come and Go – Beckett could resemble just another punishing patriarchal figure. But Company SJ's continuing project to bring the playwright's disquieting works into revealing new urban contexts recognises his grim sense of empathy, here summoning a political contour for these glimpses of incarceration, burden and disintegration.

In the crumbling Coláiste Mhuire building, the Constitution's enshrinement of a woman's "life within the home" gives a clearer provocation than the site itself. Under Sarah Jane Scaife's careful direction, fine performances allow for elucidating echoes. Bríd Ní Neachtain's "buzzing in the skull", leads to Michele Forbes' agitated mind "revolving it all" in Footfalls – each trapped in memories that torment and splinter. Corridors of light unnervingly trace the "to and fro" of a limited existence in Joan Davis's startling Rockaby.

When the performers finally convene ("we three") on old school chairs for Come and Go, a Möbius strip of birth, struggle and death, the intent comes full circle. Beckett may be no liberator, but he best understood our cages.Until Sept 20

Peter Crawley

Peter Crawley

Peter Crawley, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about theatre, television and other aspects of culture