Atom Egoyan is a master at work as he brings Beckett from the screen to the stage
This article is from 2013.
Atom Egoyan’s masterful staging of Beckett’s brief 1965 TV play Eh Joe, the first in a trio of the dramatist’s works from Dublin’s Gate Theatre at this year’s International Festival, is a thing of simple, ruthless beauty. Michael Gambon is the sole actor on stage, an old man listening to the voice of a former lover, or maybe simply his own uneasy conscience, reminding him in fractured, halting rhythms of his dark and troubled past.
Egoyan points to the work’s origins in television, as well as to his own film work, with an unforgivingly huge projection of Gambon’s face onto a gauze screen at the front of the stage, so that the actor’s every grimace, his every tear is bluntly, even cruelly exposed. There’s a clear journey here, from confusion through understanding to profound regret, all conveyed solely through Gambon’s restless features – he’s spellbinding without ever uttering a word.
Penelope Wilton’s recorded delivery of Beckett’s enigmatic text brings out its raw poetry in deceptively reassuring tones, so that the play’s closing revelations are truly shocking. But this is Gambon’s show, and his understated yet thoroughly convincing delivery is unforgettable.
Royal Lyceum Theatre, run ended.