Beckett is a tricky delight or a never-ending nightmare according to your taste and patience. While I found both the actors in Footfalls & Rockaby compelling and unforced, I did expect action of some kind to unfold during the short forty-minute production. Perhaps that’s my mistake.
Siân Phillips (who in my mind, stole the show in the National Theatre’s Under Milk Wood earlier this year) is of that old breed of actors who possess gravitas and rich simplicity that is an absolute privilege to be in the presence of. Likewise, Charlotte Emmerson holds her own and takes flight about two-thirds of the way through her play. I wish it came sooner though instinct tells me this was how she was directed. This slow-burn play is anti-theatrical in that it foregoes structure in a desire to tease out memories and events through the unfolding of them multiple times over.
Stark, simple lighting design from Ben Ormerod and a slim but suggestive design from Simon Kenny make for a visually satisfying experience. While I left wanting “more,” meditating on form, I did wonder what kind of an audience Beckett was writing for. If he was, in fact, writing for one at all. Form is so narrow nowadays, so if you’re interested in reexamining what storytelling can look like on a stage, this show is for you.
The show runs through 20 November at Jermyn Street Theatre.
Review: Matthew Pierce