In Search of Mr. B – Directions Out Theatre Company at Civic Theatre, Tallaght – Review by P McGovern.
The stage is dominated by a black coffin – and a living ventriloquist’s dummy frozen in his pose. The ghost of Samuel Beckett emerges from the coffin on one of his occasional sorties, reanimates the dummy and we embark on an evening of jousting, slapstick and intellectual tennis. Conflicting versions of events and periods of the author’s life are put forward, the dummy puncturing received versions of heroic episodes in Beckett’s involvement in the French resistance, deflating any reflected glory from his association with Joyce, subjecting him to psychoanalysis (one of the more entertaining episodes) and generally putting him in his box, pun intended.
Spoof-horror gags and perfect music and sound effects (Conor Linehan) and lighting (Conleth White) ensure we are never bored but the main strength of the production is the acting. Bryan Murray as the dummy is outstanding, combining flawless mimetic movement, great timing and vocal clarity. It is hard to imagine the part being better performed by any actor. As Mr. B, Michael Bates doesn’t quite match him but this is still a solid performance and together they provide an engaging 90 minutes, which could probably do with a 20-minute trimming. The Beckett-as- Vampire, after its initial impact, is a bit overused and loses its point. McAvera’s script is a roller-coaster through Derrida and Sartre by way of Jung, the sexual complications in the Shelley, Byron circle and Mr B’s own sex life, ending with a MacLiammoir take-off with a few lines of Eliot. It is intelligent without being pretentious and is, above all, entertaining.
This is the inaugural production of Directions Out, a new company headed by Joe Devlin, formerly of the Focus Theatre. It runs at The Civic Theatre Tallaght until this Saturday, April 4th, and continues on tour to other venues around Dublin and outside. It deserves to be seen and to be supported.
DATE & TIME: Mon 23rd March – Sat 4th April 2015, // 8:15pm