posted by Mead Hunter
FIRST-LOVE.jpgIf you love Samuel Beckett — and what’s not to love, right? — TBA:10 gives you two opportunities to see some of his non-dramatic work performed by a company that really knows what it’s doing: the Gare St. Lazare Players, here from Ireland, a country that can truly say it understands its native (albeit expatriate) son.
Currently running is First Love, an 80-minute monologue performed by the masterful Conor Lovett, directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett. His rendition of one of Beckett’s most unwholesome creations is deftly drawn; he portrays his nameless antihero with a musculature so tense that you dare not relax in his presence.
Like many Beckett characters, this one is awash in contradiction — literally so, being a product of his polyglot creator: contra/diction. At times this character seems simple, yet at other times exhibits a linguistic formality that hints at autodidacticism (referring to a burial as an inhumation, for example). He starts out as a pathetic figure — a misanthropic one, to be sure, who believes that the living stink worse than the dead, but a pitiable guy nevertheless. Gradually, however, he becomes more and more monstrous until you’re glad to be shed of his company.
As such, the performance isn’t what you’d call fun. The profound sense of human suffering giving way to ennoblement that won Beckett the Nobel Prize (in 1969) takes a holiday here; the speaker himself seems to be worse of, at the end of his monologue, for sharing his story with us.
Still, Mr. Lovett’s performance is virtuosic, and you won’t see the like of it again soon. First Love continues through Monday evening, and on Tuesday, for that night only, Gare St. Lazare performs its famed Beckett Trilogy.