City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

First Love Review

By Bill Dunlop - Posted on 06 August 2010

Fringe 2010: Conor Lovett in First Love
Show details
Gare St Lazare
Running time: 
Judy Hegarty Lovett (director)
Conor Lovett

This is braw. As the eponymous character of Willy Russell’s ‘Educating Rita’ finds when she reduces her response to ‘discuss the difficulties of staging Ibsen’s Peer Gynt’ to ‘Do it on the radio.’ the problem becomes one of expanding on the succinct.

Gare St Lazare have considerable experience of presenting Beckett, and this production adds further lustre to their crown. Stripped to essentials, the audience are drawn swiftly and skilfully in to the musings and meanderings of the nameless misanthrope seemingly cast adrift by his family on the death of his father.

Conor Lovett crafts his performance with great skill, reminding this reviewer of Tom Hickey in ‘The Gallant John Joe’ or Lorcan Cranitch in ‘The Gigli Concert’. So acting of a high order, and equally clearly shrewdly directed toward the heart of Beckett’s meditation on death, love and the singularity of life.

Moving from graveyard to boudoir, from death to birth with some hard looks at our selfishness, self-absorption and need for self-justification, ‘First Love’ is Beckett with less laughter than tears. Beckett’s character, confronted by the female principle and his own confused desires and emotions, flees firmly for the safety of his own ego, but not before revealing something of what has been lost. Lovett’s tour through repressed emotion, suppressed desire and regretful self-recognition is never less than a joy to watch even and especially when comedy veers sharply in the opposite direction.

Previous work by Gare St Lazare this year alone has included ‘Moby Dick’ and will continue with presentation of the Beckett trilogy – ‘Molloy’, ‘Malone Dies’ and ‘The Unnameable’. Even at seventy five minutes, First Love is a demanding production, but as Howard Barker’s woman taken from the streets to sit in the stalls puts it; ‘Because it was hard, I felt honoured’. So are we.

Times: 4-30 August (not 11 or 18), 5.30pm