Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Bill Irwin On Beckett

In On Beckett, Bill Irwin offers an analysis of the famous scene at the end of Waiting For Godot where Vladimir tells the boy (Finn O’Sullivan) “Tell him you saw me,” citing amongst other things the biblical parable of the two thieves. For Irwin the question is whether Vladimir is trying to monopolize salvation. Were he more magnanimous, would he have said “tell him you saw us?” Irwin is wearing two hats in the current performance at the Irish Rep, that of the dramaturg/critic and that of the actor, dealing with the performer's relation to lines and stage directions. Actually he’s wearing many hats, brilliantly dramatized in one section where his bowler is deconstructed into a number of different head coverings including a fez and a yarmulke (the spirit of the famous Chaplin bowler of course hangs over any Beckett production). Irwin interweaves his discussion of Godot with selections of from Texts for NothingWatt and The Unnameable. Beckett has many interpreters and one who lived many years before he himself was a glimmer in anyone's eye, Bishop Berkeley, whose “esse est percipti” (“to be is to be perceived”) provides the epigraph of the playwright’s sole cinematic work, Film. But Irwin’s part of a venerable tradition of clowns, including Keaton (who starred in Film) and Lahr who appeared in the first production of Waiting for Godot in America and who have the tools to perform Beckett’s tragic comic stage business. Irwin’s brilliant rendition of  Lucky's iconic speech from Godot offers the ne plus ultra parody interpretation of the human condition culminating in the assertion that the fate of man is to "waste and pine." It also demonstrates why clowning is such an apt vehicle for the playwright's tongue-in-cheek teleology. Beckett’s works are often about the topography of disembodied consciousness (take the famous lips in Not I) and Irwin’s antics are like dendrites and axons flitting around the synapses of the brain and conveying the closest thing to serotonin that you’ll find in theater today.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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