Men Like Us – Smock Alley – Review


It’s rare to see a collection of short Beckett plays on stage. There are at least a couple of new productions of Waiting for Godot each year, and Endgame, Krapp’s last tape and Happy Days follow closely behind, but the short plays often get pushed to one side. This production takes three of the lesser known works of Beckett – Matalang (an Irish Language translation of Catastrophe), Rough for Theatre II and The End.

Mouth on Fire have continued their collaboration with Gabriel Rosenstock, after his translation of Krapp’s Last Tapes appeared in the New Theatre last year. This time he has translated Catastrophe, which is a short work dealing with a director controlling a motionless protagonist on stage. Subtitles were projected onto the back wall of the set, for those fearing their Irish would not be up to scratch!

The second piece was ‘Rough for Theatre II’ in which two bureaucrats, Bertrand and Morvan discuss the life of a man perched on a window ledge on the sixth floor, seemingly ready to jump.

The final piece of the evening was ‘The End’ which was the longest of the three, lasting just over an hour. This is a monologue told by an old man who is coming to the end of his days, trying to find a place to sleep and keep warm, while awaiting his fate. It is a bleak tale, but told with as much humour as possible.

There was the unusual touch of having a musical interlude between each of the short pieces by Kim V Porcelli. This production took place in the Boy’s School, and Kim played on one of the balconies above the stage. The performance took the form of looped Cello and vocals, which floated and reverberated around the high ceiling to great effect.

It would be hard to describe this as an easy night at the theatre, but it was highly rewarding none the less. The final piece ‘The End’ was a tale of a homeless man at the end of his days, struggling to get by on the streets. It is one of the bleakest tales by Beckett, but is hugely rich in language and style. It is somewhat overlooked possibly due to the dour outlook and is rarely performed. It is a very demanding piece for any actor, with the length and subtlety of Beckett’s words but Marcus Lamb does a remarkable job.

The three pieces in this production have little in common other than for their writer but they were carried off with considerable style. Mouth on Fire love to delve into Beckett and their high production values and impressive staging bring them to life.

Men Like Us at Smock Alley

15th – 17th January at 8pm in The Boys’ School

Listen to Kim V Porcelli here.

Directed by Cathal Quinn
Produced by Melissa Nolan
Lighting & Set Design by Paul Doran
Music composed by Kim V Porcelli


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