First Love – The New Theatre – Review
by Samuel Beckett – Mouth on Fire
Jul 16th – Jul 28th @ 7.30pm
This was originally a short story written by Beckett in 1946, so pre-dates major work such as Waiting for Godot. Surprisingly, Beckett did not allow it to be released until much later, and it was first published in French in 1970, the year after his Nobel prize win. Mouth on Fire have translated it for the stage as a one man performance by Marcus Lamb.
It tells the story of a young man, who after the death of his father ends up homeless. He lives in various locations and eventually encounters a young woman called Lulu. And so begins their unusual love affair as the narrator slowly starts to become enamoured with the woman! Lulu eventually takes the man into her home and their difficult relationship starts to grow.
The stage is barren and Lamb has little to play with so the focus is on him for the duration. The lighting does play a part, with the various places the narrator visits defined by different colours and styles of lighting. As a concept, it works well and Lamb interacts with it impressively. The only item on stage is a hat, which hangs centre stage just above the actor’s head!
Lamb has already appeared in a solo show performing Beckett’s The End at the New Theatre a number of years ago, so this new production should come as no real surprise. He has also worked with Gare St Lazar, among others. He is a regular with Beckett’s text and seems at ease with the complex language.
Many people may be familiar with this work as it was performed by Barry McGovern in the Dublin Theatre Festival two years ago. While it does mean the text is fresh in the mind, this is a very different performance which puts a new emphasis on the work. The main difference is that this production draws out the humour of the work. There are sections that are very funny and lift the mood, which at times is quite bleak. It is a rich and gratifying production and any fan of Beckett’s work should not miss it!
Performed by Marcus Lamb
Directed by Cathal Quinn
Produced by Melissa Nolan