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The End

Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
4 stars
Isolation may be the crux of Samuel Beckett's literary and dramatic 
canon, yet such is his waggishly profound understanding of the human 
condition that it connects in a way that mere navel-gazing never could. 
So it goes in the Cork-based Gare St Lazare company's latest dissection 
of Beckett-world, a solo rendition by Conor Lovett of a short story 
first published in 1955. A monologue from the point of view of a man 
discharged from some form of institution forced to make his way in the 
world alone, what starts out as a kind of picaresque rake's progress 
becomes a slow decline into self-negation, until Lovett literally 
vanishes.

With only two wooden benches onstage, Lovett may be clad in charcoal 
suit and tacketty boots, but, as directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett, his 
is a more understatedly casual approach to Beckett than mere clowning 
around. Instead, Lovett relates his yarn of seeking refuge in a near 
roofless, dilapidated shed and the pure private joy of scratching an 
itch with a sense of intimacy that charms and amuses without ever 
feeling self-consciously peculiar.

Over eighty-five delicious minutes, Lovett captures the depth behind 
every hesitant nuance of Beckett's wordplay as he did in his previous 
three-hour rendition of his muse's early trilogy of novels. It might be 
argued too that, in the pre care-in-the-community society Beckett 
depicts, there is a quietly political point to the story of such a 
displaced figure. If so, it never forces the issue, as somehow out of 
the mire it becomes clear that there is a profound difference between 
being lonely and just being alone in this most solitary of pleasures.

The Herald, February 20th 2012

ends

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