| 8°C Dublin

Review: Watt

THE essence of Beckett's second novel, written "only as a game, a means of staying sane" while in hiding from the Nazis in southern France, is distilled in this hour-long show by the great Beckett interpreter Barry McGovern.

Apart from typical Beckett concerns -- the playful scuppering of narrative, the comic, the poetic bleakness, the minutely and repetitively detailed enunciations of life's absurdities -- the novel's main philosophical preoccupation here is not "why is there something rather than nothing?", but rather "is there anything at all?"

Watt finds himself the manservant of the reclusive Mr Knott, and most of the hour is taken up with a relation of domestic rituals and the eccentric locals.

Watt has regular encounters with another female domestic, who he places on his lap while quietly resting his head on her breast, "the other being removed in the heat of a surgical operation".

There's a less mysterious tradesman for whom Watt has "a feeling little short of liking".

"Nothing remained afterward," Watt says after leaving the house, "but was not that something?"

McGovern is the perfect conduit for this quizzical ambivalence. He's a kind of palimpsest of all the Beckett roles he's performed and it's difficult to imagine him needing any but the lightest touches of direction.

Tom Creed appears to have taken this line in a production that allows nothing to distract from the performer.