Roughs (for Radio)
Disappointing staging of unsettling Beckett texts immerses the audience in nothing but darkness
This article is from 2015.
There’s immersive, and then there’s immersive. Monkfish Theatre’s ‘immersive reading’ of two seldom-performed Samuel Beckett radio scripts gently leads you blindfolded into the performance space – and that’s about it. Sitting with an eyemask on listening simply to the actors’ voices and audio effects feels entirely appropriate for works that were conceived as sound-only for radio broadcast – but you’d be hard pushed to emerge from this show feeling like you’d been immersed in anything other than darkness.
That aside, Beckett’s two unsettling works – predictably enigmatic yet full of slippery meaning and linguistic playfulness – are a disquieting joy to experience in themselves. The first covers a woman’s perplexing visit to a man named Macgillycuddy, while the far darker second deals with a torture or interrogation scene – although what’s being sought is never clear.
Monkfish’s readings, however, feel rather on the flat side: there’s little attempt to point up the strangeness of Beckett’s language and scenarios, nor even to make much use of the performance space. Beckett’s two Roughs are undeniably powerful in themselves, but they need a stronger, more searching production than this to bring them convincingly to the stage.
C nova, 0845 260 1234, until 31 Aug (not 18), 8.30pm, £9.50–£11.50.