Thursday, December 27, 2012

All That Fall at BAM

One may or may not accuse Beckett of being a dualist, but no writer is as adept at dramatizing the Cartesian agony. Put in another light, let us just say that Beckett, a la what Harold Bloom said about Shakespeare, dramatized what it means to be human. The Pan Pan Theater Company’s production of Beckett’s All That Fall recently completed a run at BAM. All That Fall was written as a radio play and even though it has been staged as a conventional theater piece, Gavin Quinn who directed, remained faithful to Beckett’s original intentions.The audience sat on rocking chairs in a darkness that was punctuated with brilliant lighting and sound effects. Anyone who’s ever enjoyed Fred Newman on Prairie Home Companion would delight in comparing notes with what Pan Pan sound designer Jimmy Eadie brilliantly accomplished for this rendition with its trains and mooing and constant footsteps. Albeit, this is a radio play, the audience’s being deprived of sight (like one of its central characters who is blind) is curiously Beckettian in and of itself. Disembodiment is one of Beckett's ongoing themes. For instance, in the famous Not I, Billie Whitelaw is just a mouth uttering words. In Film, Buster Keaton gradually looses his sense of self-conception. In the current production of All That Fall, the audience is in the dark literarily and metaphorically. There is a wonderful monologue in All That Fall (which is not to be confused with Arthur Miller’s After the Fall, though it’s striking that two so radically dissimilar playwrights appropriated the same iconography) in which Beckett’s central character, Maddy (Ain Ni Mhuiri), describes having gone to hear a lecture by a neurologist as a way of dealing with her lifelong obsession with horses’s buttocks. The lecturer is giving a case history of a girl he couldn’t help. At the end he concludes that all she suffered from was the fact that she was dying “and she did as soon as he washed his hands of her.” What better argument for a mind/body dichotomy? In another section Maddy's husband, Dan (Andrew Bennett), does an accounting of his existence and figures out that it would be far more profitable if he simply stayed home and did nothing and yet another character is described as coping with pain by beating his wife. “What a piece of work in man, how noble in reason, how infinite in faculties… and yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.