Emerging into the light at the end of a performance, and examining the drunken spider’s track marks that comprise the notes made in darkness, can suggest something about what has been seen; the fewer of these, the more the production has to say.
This rule of thumb is certainly the case with Gare St Lazare’s production of Samuel Beckett’s ‘The End’. Although a short story in first person form rather than a play, it encompasses enough of Beckett’s thought and style to form an epitome of the greater corpus. That said, a précis intended for the press scarcely does its concerns full justice.
‘The End is a short story by Samuel Beckett which he began in English and finished in French. In it a man recounts an episode late in his life when, having been expelled from an institution of care, he finds his own way in the world. He meets a variety of characters and situations before finally lying down to let life ebb away.’
Well, yes, but The End is concerned from first to last with last things. Conor Lovett’s nameless character is indeed thrust out of the safe environment he has known to search for a replacement, his quest drawing him further and further from the world of human concern. Moving from his previous secluded safety to seedy lodgings, a tiny cabin and finally to the utter isolation of a completely enclosed boat, the unnamed individual makes the journey we all must from relation to the exterior world to the isolation of imminent extinction.
Yet in Beckett there is always a great deal of light between the darkness, and The End is ablaze with it. Both consciously and unconsciously a humourist, Lovett’s character offers us the simple truth that to be human is to be funny.
Like that other great humerous observer of the human condition, Anton Chekov, Beckett has suffered from critics (and thus audiences) failing to see the funny side. It’s Gare St Lazare’s great gift to the rest of us that they continue to present Beckett in a form that remains true to both the dark and lighter sides of the man and his work.
The only cavail (from a reviewer's point of view) is that this creditably tight little company did not provide sufficient additionall information to fully credit any others in the production team. That noted, slainte math to all.
Event: 17 & 18 Feb, 2012