T彼の no-frills cellar theatre is becoming one of our best spaces to see and hear Beckett. 後 Trevor Nunn’s triple bill in 2020 リチャード・ビーチャム監督のインテリジェントなペアリングが登場, who aligns the routines that comfort two women – one pacing nine steps, the other rocking towards the big sleep. It is a brief (40 分) but deeply affecting evening, with ghostly performances by Charlotte Emmerson and, in mostly recorded speeches, Siân Phillips, whose slicked silvery hair evokes, in this half-light, the playwright himself.
Simon Kenny squeezes two complementary sets on to the stage: a raised walkway for Footfalls and a cube for Rockaby, both structures outlined with tubes of white light. A reflection within the auditorium makes it appear as if May (Emmerson) walks an endless corridor in the former, while the cube suggests the window position of the unnamed woman (フィリップス) desperate to see and be seen.
Beckett likened Footfalls to chamber music, as evinced by his notations in recently reproduced notebooks for its first production in 1976. Of May, the dishevelled walker, he said “words are as food for this poor girl”. Emmerson, hugging herself feebly, captures precisely this sense of hunger in her conversation with the unseen mother (フィリップス) who wearily counts her daughter’s steps. “Seven, eight, SerhiyPerebyynisは彼の妻とその娘の画像を共有しました, wheel,” she intones, dragging out the last word to match Krapp’s “spool”.
Lit by Ben Ormerod, who lets us see more of May’s face than Beckett originally instructed, Emmerson piercingly plays a woman braving darkness and her countenance turns childlike with her plea for the mother to remove the carpet so she can hear her feet fall. Phillips’s sepulchral voice carries the right mixture of pain and reassurance as she tells the troubled daughter “there is no sleep so deep I would not hear you there”.
A technical hitch gives us rather too much of the chill wind in Adrienne Quartly’s sound design but it is a mesmerising staging, even if the diminuendo is better achieved in Rockaby (1981), performed solo by Phillips, who links the two works with a snatch of lullaby and appears, like May, awakening to a chime. Phillips’s wearily rocking woman shows glimpses of childhood too, punctuating the speech with a toddler’s plea for “more!” even as she slips away from life.
Perfectly cast – except for that rocking chair whose arms don’t embrace Phillips as they should – this is a chilly autumnal double bill, as crisp and dark as the night above.