One Word: INNOVATIVE
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I took my seat in the Arts Theatre this week to see the heralded new stage production of Samuel Beckett’s radio play ‘All That Fall’. Audience members were handed a blindfold on arrival, and it was with some trepidation that I covered my eyes.
If, like me, you’re an avid listener of radio plays and dramatizations, this is not an experience to be missed. A wonderful ensemble performance from the cast really brings the play to life in front of your eyes…not that you can see it, of course.
‘Out of Joint’s production, which has already had rave reviews from a previous run at Wilton’s Music Hall, offers the audience a unique opportunity to experience 360 degree sound, with speakers hidden throughout the theatre and the actors free to walk around amongst the seats. When a car races past Mrs Rooney as she walks along, you feel it go past you, as if you were standing right there by the roadside with her; as she and her husband walk back from the station, they physically walk past you in the auditorium, voices rising and falling as if further in the distance. Max Stafford-Clark’s wonderful direction brings cast right in amongst the audience, and really heightens the atmosphere and sense of realism.
Running at an hour with no interval, the only distractions from the surrounding soundscape were a few slightly disjointed sound effects – not out of place, but just a enough to bring you slightly out of the moment.
Beckett’s plays can be like marmite for me, however ‘All That Fall’ has a wonderful combination of strong characters, elements of humour and mystery, and a sense of realism that makes the piece all the more captivating.
The only real criticism for me was that we saw the actors before we put our blindfolds on. I’m all for giving actors their duly earned recognition and appreciation, but in a production such as this I believe it would have been even more effective for the audience not to see them until the end of the show.
When listening to a recording, the listener builds their own mental image of a character from their voice – Brid Brennan’s brilliant characterisation of Mrs Rooney built a clear image in my head of a woman verging on old age, with her handbag hooked over one arm, rather stern and domineering…someone who felt that they were a lynchpin of the village. Then an image of Brid would pop into my head (who is decidedly nothing like the above!), and jar with the character I was seeing in my mind’s eye. A momentary distraction, but a distraction none the less, and one that reoccurred with each character.
An innovative and brave West End transfer from ‘Out of Joint’, ‘All That Fall’ is playing at The Arts Theatre until 14th May – I would urge you to go, and experience this alternative theatrical production for yourself.
Date of performance: 04/05/16
ALL THAT FALL
Until 14th May
Mon-Sat at 8pm, Thurs and Sat 6pm
PLEASE NOTE: NO LATECOMERS ADMITTED
Tickets: £34, £25, £15, £10
020 7836 8463