The Old Market, Hove, May 18
Using the best of Samuel Beckett to compose a piece of theatre which follows “themes of age, love and that tormenting voice that plays inside us all,” was the aim of director Judy Hegarty Lovett.
What to say? It was a brilliant success – even those who hadn’t made a lifetime’s study of Beckett would have been enchanted by this seamless, thoughtful portrayal of the man’s voice and world through music, poetry and prose.
The clear soprano voice and sculptural, almost sepulchral face, of Melanie Pappenheim set the scene, as she intoned the “here all night” motif across the space, while the faun-like Caomhin O’Raghallaigh contributed his heavenly fiddle; Christopher Allen added gravitas with his cello; John Paul Gandy gave a virtuoso performance on piano; and a finely-pitched and perfectly rehearsed three-woman choir underpinned the musical side of things.
That said, it was the contribution of the charismatic Conor Lovett that gave the evening its raison d’etre. His at times authoritative, at others self-effacing, delivery of Beckett’s random ramblings gave you a gentle nudge towards a man whose genius lay in his ability to put into words those insecurities and uncomfortable truths which put the pain and, paradoxically the joy, into our collective humanity.
This is a formally experimental work in four acts. Fragments of the novels are performed by Conor Lovett whilst solo soprano Melanie Pappenheim, accompanied by a trio chorus of female voice, cello, violin, and piano, performs an original score inspired by the music in Beckett’s work and composed by Paul Clarke. The music feels minimalist in aesthetic and mirrors the folding and re-folding patterns of Beckett’s texts. The artistry in this collected team is powerful: Pappenheim’s folkish soprano is stunningly fragile. Conor Lovett has a remarkable affinity to the turns and dogged playfulness of Beckett’s prose. His performance makes the text feel like real lines of thought, stripping out the sense of artificiality and over-thinking that can sometimes get in between the readers/audience and the insight, wit and comedy in the writing.