Here All Night – Abbey Theatre – Review
11 – 14 April 2018
Irish Theatre company Gare St Lazare are well known for their productions of Beckett’s work, having recently staged Waiting For Godot (Dublin Theatre Festival 2013-15), How It Is (2018) and First Love (2016). Their new production is something quite unusual, however. Not only does it feature spoken sections of Beckett’s prose, it also sets the author’s words to music. The production was created by husband and wife team Judy Hegarty Lovett (Director) and Conor Lovett, along with Musical Director/ Composer Paul Clark and Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh (The Gloaming and This is how we Fly). The piece uses Beckett’s prose such as Watt, First Love, Malone Dies and The Unnamable.
There were eleven performers on stage for the duration. This includes three musicians with Christopher Allan on Cello, Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh on Handanger D’Amore and James Longford on Piano. There was a six member choir with Alto, Mezzo and Soprano singers along with a solo vocalist in Melanie Pappenheim. The only performer not involved in the music is Conor Lovett. He performs sections of spoken prose which break up the musical interludes and offer variation to the piece.
There is also an art work by artist Brian O’Doherty on stage, with a male figure suspended horizontally about a metre above the stage. This work forms the centre piece of the production, with the various performers moving around it. It is quite a striking and unusual image.
The piece is said to be “Inspired by (and featuring) some of the music and songs in Samuel Beckett’s work”. While not many know of Beckett’s musical leanings, he was a keen amateur musician and this work actually incorporates melodies written by Beckett himself. The music has been developed and altered by the team, with the various songs arranged for violin, cello, piano and voice.
A lot will depend on whether you enjoy the music and it is not easy listening. It is a sparse arrangement that constantly changes, with each instrument allowed their moment in the spotlight. You can hear a selection of the music on Gare St. Lazare’s website here. The solo performances by Ó Raghallaigh work well along with the vocal harmonies.
One of the difficulties of hearing a substantial monologue is concentrating for the duration. Your mind does tend to wander on occasion. As this production uses shorter sections of prose, you can focus on the words to greater effect. Lovett’s performance is very impressive as he captures the fragility and insecurities of the character, while bringing out the humour of the words.
Conceived & Created by: Judy Hegarty Lovett, Conor Lovett, Paul Clark & Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh
Directed by: Judy Hegarty Lovett
Composer/Musical Director: Paul Clark
Lighting Designer: Simon Bennison
Artwork: Hello, Sam Redux Rope Drawing #126, 2016: Brian O’Doherty
Art Technician: Fergus Byrne
Movement: John Scott
Producer: Maura O’Keeffe
Actor: Conor Lovett
Singer: Melanie Pappenheim
Cello: Christopher Allan
Handanger D’Amore: Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh
Piano: James Longford
Soprano: Amanda Sidebottom
Soprano: Anna Ward
Mezzo: Krista River
Mezzo: Jaime Korkos
Alto: Kate Maroney
Alto: Katherine Growdon