• Staged reading
  • By Samuel Beckett
  • Produced by Jen Coppinger
  • Concept , staging and design by: Olwen Fouéré, Kellie Hughes and Sarah Jane Sheils
  • Olwen Fouéré
  • Barbican Centre, London
  • Until 8 June
  • Time: 8:30, 13:30, 18:00, 16:30, 19:30
  • Review by Rebecca Coates
  • 5 June 2015
4.0Reviewer's rating

A dramatic reading of one of Beckett’s lesser-known works, Lessness addresses many of the preoccupations found in his plays. Time, cycles of events and mortality all play a role in the hypnotic 35 minuutes that Olwen Fouéré recites for. Her delivery is slow, sonorous, her gaze fixed and considering, almost as if she is seeing the events unfold before her. At first her words feel almost disconnected and it is hard to grasp a coherent meaning, letting the sound wash over you and be absorbed, wave-like. The sonic landscape evokes a sense of Eliot’s The Waste Land, similar patterns of sound and rhythm.

She sits, illuminated by a single lamp, headphones on, a message beyond our ears, and perhaps our understanding. Fouéré’s gaze is one that transcends the theatre, that transcends her own placid figure.

There is an occasional building intensity before it flattens out again, the piece’s topics of the endless and changelessness reflected in its syntax and structure. Slowly, the initially inchoate form becomes clear, repetitions becoming familiar and comfortable. Although this begins to wear by the end of the performance, it means the sections that change are all the more startling for it, taking on an added import.


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