Situated firmly within Beckett’s corner of the tragicomic tradition – or comitragic, depending on how you look at it – American playwright Will Eno’s outsider-everyman is masterfully played by Irish actor Conor Lovett in this funny, lonely, lyrical production about a man who’s ‘not from here’ and about all of existence.
Eno has been compared to Beckett before, but saying that does give you a good idea of what to expect. In this play, when he’s not channelling Beckett, he’s channelling Flann O’Brien with a sort of drily whimsical exuberance that punctuates the linguistic bareness in quite a delightful way. So while this might not be the most original play, it’s certainly coming from good stock.
Lovett’s performance is perfectly pitched and remarkably timed, laced with considered pauses and trips over the language – certain sentences cannot be finished by the character; certain sentiments remain ineffable. ‘Don’t get too lost for too long,’ he utters from the empty stage, by way of advice – throughout, he addresses the audience directly, with an awkward, starey sort of affability, but always maintaining his distance, as theatrical conventions and his outsider status dictate.
A pared-down yet expansive play, well worth seeing for the force of its language, the quality of the production, and Lovett’s superb performance.
Words: Hilary White
Title and Deed by Will Eno, Assembly Hall, Aug 2 – 24 (not 11), 18:05