The Beckett Trilogy: Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable
The Gare St Lazare Players perform trilogy as 3-hour solo performance
Samuel Beckett may be better-known for iconic plays like Waiting for Godot and Endgame but Irish theatre outfit Gare St Lazare Players have proved over the last 14 years that his lesser-known prose works have as much to offer when performed on stage. Spearheaded by director Judy Hegarty Lovett and actor Conor Lovett, they have toured internationally, more extensively than any other Irish theatre company, and will arrive at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre this month with their lauded production of Beckett’s Trilogy, which sees Lovett undertake a solo performance spanning over three hours.
It’s a daunting task for any actor but Lovett relishes the challenge, citing the production as one of his favourite to perform in Gare St Lazare’s extensive repertoire of Beckett prose works. ‘I love the development you see across the three pieces,’ he explains. ‘Molloy is almost slapstick comedy at times, then Malone Dies darkens. Finally, The Unnamable goes into this almost David Lynchian space and I really enjoy performing that.’
Lovett sees his role as secondary to the finely tuned nature of Beckett’s writing, a quality made evident as these three works progress during the evening. He says: ‘Judy and I have always said we want to let the writing be heard, so we try to keep me out of the way in order to respect its rhythms. As Molloy turns into Malone Dies, the whole idea of story begins to break down. By The Unnamable, Beckett has attempted to write a novel without any plot and we try and map how that might have happened.’
It may sound demanding but Lovett is keen to highlight Beckett’s accessibility. ‘Across the globe, audiences are surprised at how easy he is to follow,’ he says. ‘For some reason, they have a sense that it is not going to be easy and that has always surprised me. Beckett had huge compassion for his characters, he invested them with great integrity. Like any good writer, he was cruel to his characters. They are people who are just trying to get on with life and make sense of it, and I think audiences respond to that.’
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Fri 21 & Sat 22 Jan