Review: Samuel Beckett’s Fizzles

Company SJ create a splitting performance from Beckett’s prose fragments in a crumbling building. Strangely, it becomes a wholly united experience

 

Samuel Beckett’s Fizzles; Beckett in the City

14 Henrietta Street, Dublin

****

Five years ago, Company SJ made a fascinating discovery: by ushering Beckett’s short pieces into the city street, his disquieting placeless dramas found a rooted social context and a bracing relevance. Here, director Sarah Jane Scaife transplants three of his Fizzles prose fragments to a crumbling former tenement building – an atmospheric setting, beautifully enhanced – but whose own performance hardly compares to Raymond Keane’s.

As a struggling figure, groping through the dark, Keane actually gives three separate performances of life in fragments: a desiccated recorded narrator, whispering into your mind; a ghostly residue projected on the wall; and an exquisitely suffering body, moving towards oblivion. In theme and effect, Beckett’s short texts are really endurance tests, labouring the minute, surface details of fading life, with little mordant relief (unless you count the treat of licking a wall). But Scaife and Keane use our path through the location to give that experience an affecting shape, more slow burn than fizzle, where a final divorce of mind and body (“it was he had a life, I didn’t have a life”) flares with horror before extinguishing.

Until Sep 17