Saturday 23 September 2017

Beckett -- twitchy, tetchy but still terrific

First Love
The Project Cube


LIKE the self-consuming narrators of Beckett's later prose trilogy, the narrator of the earlier novella 'First Love' is a vagrant in the process of sloughing off all attachment to the world around him.

Not that there is much. Like the later Molloy/Malone character, this one, already free-floating, strives for ever deeper depths of stillness.

He's a mere novice compared to those others, however, and is still human enough to attract the attentions of the opposite sex.

Conor Lovett of Gare St Lazare Players, directed by Judy Lovett, delivers an unabridged version of the novella, his only prop a couple of wooden benches suggestive of coffins, the park bench on which he meets the streetwalker 'Lulu' and the sofa which he wakes up on.

But nothing could be as entertaining as what issues from Lovett's mouth.

Tall, wiry, he's the perfect conductor for Beckett's twitchy, tetchy, self-conscious, self-mocking, hesitant, but ever-flowing prose. And prose it remains.

The Lovetts don't try to turn it into something it isn't. There's no drama in the tale -- the narrator's interest is 'on the wane' after the first night with Lulu -- but by adopting the relaxed manner of a stand-up comic, Lovett arouses a sense of discomfort, and tension. The narrator's feeble love affair is bleakly funny and, when laughing, we're drawn into a false sense of security that is immediately chilled by the narrator pulling back from camaraderie like a turtle into its shell.

It rings mordantly true to life and Lovett pitches it right.

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