Eh Joe (4 stars)

This article is from 2013

Eh Joe

Photo: Anthony Woods

Atom Egoyan is a master at work as he brings Beckett from the screen to the stage

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.

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…