Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh 4 stars A man steps out from the audience and onto a stage that remains bare other than a stool that sits in the far corner while a solitary shaft of light brightens the stage's centre. As the reflective piano music that's been playing fades out, the man, dressed in buttoned-up charity shop suit and a hoodie underneath, proceeds to tell his story. Or rather, in the Cork-based Gare St Lazare Players latest rendering of Samuel Beckett's prose, one of many stories. Because there's a real sense of continuum in the company's approach that becomes increasingly clear with their every visit. Much of this down to the solo performances by Conor Lovett as directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett in a spare and austere fashion. Both suggest that what's being said is just the latest episode in a life of incident and colour. Here, Lovett takes a novella penned by Beckett in 1948 but not published until 1971 and lifts it off the page with a dry sense of understatement that would give that other great Irish comic orator Dave Allen a run for his money. Over eighty minutes, Lovett explains, or rather, confesses how a visit to his father's grave and an interrupted night's sleep on a park bench results in his moving into a two-room flat with a prostitute. As he recounts every awkward intimacy while acting out the niceties of courtship by rote, Lovett captures the real essence of flying blind into a partnership that's as dysfunctional but as necessary as any of Beckett's other co-dependents. When Lovett's narrator eventually walks away, his parting line may be full of loss, but there's hope too behind every word.
The Herald, May 28th 2013 ends