Writer: Samuel Beckett
Director: Sarah Jane Scaife
Reviewer: Tricia O’Beirne
Company SJ have provided a space for Beckett’s women to come alive. This magical production takes place within the crumbling, musty walls of Banba Hall, a currently disused building on Dublin’s Parnell Square, and the fragile old Georgian building, bare-boarded and stripped down to its essence, showing the scars of its past, could itself be a character in a Beckett play. The four plays presented here are Not I, with Bríd Ní Neachtain and Joan Davis; Footfalls with Michele Forbes; Rockaby with Joan Davis and Come and Go with all three of the above actors. The audience –numbers are limited due to the site specific nature of the production – are given a brief introduction and a procedure to follow for moving throughout the building. We are then ushered silently from room to room for each of the different plays: torchlight illuminates our way in the darkened corridors and improvised seating emphasises the ephemeral nature of this theatrical space.
Not I features Ní Neachtain’s voice capturing beautifully the pain of a disembodied being, cast out into the “godforsaken hole”; every word she utters is separate and clear. Not I however is the least impressive visually. The lighting (John Comiskey) and costuming (Sinead Cuthbert) for Footfalls is stunning. Michele Forbes’ ethereal May/Amy is heart-breaking to watch, moving across the wooden boards – “now bare, this strip of floor, once was carpeted, a deep pile” – and in and out of darkness as the play moves through its metronomic paces. Joan Davis in Rockaby physically captures the sadness and loneliness of old age with such integrity and stillness it is difficult to leave her alone in her rocking chair, with her head downward, as the play ends and we are guided out of the room. Once again for Come and Go the costuming and lighting are really effective; the women are recognisably of Dublin’s past but yet the staging is highly stylised, with the shadows of their hats thrown in sharp relief behind them. The formalised direction and the theatricality of their gestures give dignity to the nature of female relationships as perceived by Beckett.
This production, directed by Sarah Jane Scaife, is wonderful and absolutely accessible to scholars and non-scholars alike, although unfortunately the venue is notwheelchair accessible. The space, both in the physicality of the building and the space which Company SJ allow us in which to gather our thoughts and come away from each play, adds hugely to the overall experience.
Photo courtesy of the Tiger Dublin Fringe. Runs until 20th September as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival.