The Edinburgh International Festival 2013 celebrates Samuel Beckett

This article is from 2013

The Edinburgh International Festival 2013 celebrates Samuel Beckett

credit: Anthony Woods

The strand's highlight is Eh Joe starring Michael Gambon and directed by Atom Egoyan

Beckett at the Festival is a major programme of the Irish author’s TV, radio and fiction works adapted for the stage. Inevitably, given the scale of the project and the affection Beckett commands in theatre, there are impressive names in the lineup – and the companies behind the productions (Gate Theatre, Dublin and Pan Pan Theatre) have established themselves as being vibrant bearers of Beckett’s flame.

Eh Joe is perhaps the biggest pull: starring Michael Gambon (The King’s Speech) as the man in a dressing gown facing his past alone. Directed by Atom Egoyan – better known for his films which owe a great deal to Beckett’s absurdism – Eh Joe was originally a TV play but shares the unflinching moral intensity of Krapp’s Last Tape.

I’ll Go On, presented by Gate Theatre, adapts extracts from Beckett’s trilogy. These novels share the play’s love of language: more than just recitations of key monologues, Barry McGovern’s performance will bring a new life to some of the most profound meditations on the human condition of the 20th century.

Far from paying homage to the words, Pan Pan Theatre promise to add new dimensions to the radio play Embers by adding sculptures from Andrew Clancey as an integral part of the production: their All That Fall is on the boundary between theatre and sound art.

The vision of Beckett emerging from this programme is not unfamiliar but it reveals how the theatrical potential of language was always in his mind, whatever medium he was working in.

Various venues, 473 2000, Fri 23 Aug–Sat 31 Aug, £8–£20.

Eh Joe

  • 4 stars

The whisper in your head … Me whispering at you in your head … Things you can’t catch … On and off … Till you join us … Eh, Joe? An old man in his dressing gown moves around his bedroom, checking behind the door, under the bed, out of the window. Satisfied there are no intruders, he sits on the bed. Then he hears a…


‘silence in the house, not a sound, only the fire, no flames now, embers. Embers.’ Henry sits on a beach, remembering and imagining stories and incidents from his life, tormented by his father’s suicide, his own dysfunctional family history and his failure as a writer. Hallucinations and reality merge as he attempts to…

All That Fall

‘A life of unending misery in a world devoid of God, now that’s funny.’ Maddy Rooney is in her seventies – unsightly, ungainly and unwell – laboriously to-ing and fro-ing between her home and Boghill Station. This is a landscape whose details are drawn from the suburbs of Foxrock and Leopardstown from Beckett’s youth, but…

I'll Go On

Based on Beckett’s trilogy of novels – Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable – this one-man show performed by celebrated Beckett interpreter Barry McGovern brings together three monologues that unify the central characters of each novel, revealing successively deepening layers of reflection and emotion. Firstly there is…

Krapp’s Last Tape

Beckett on Film: Krapp’s Last Tape: Directed by Atom Egoyan and starring John Hurt.