It is impossible to compare All that Fall to any other production. Not only is it unique as a radio drama, but the over all delivery and theatrical experience as a whole is an awakening to the senses.
All that Fall forms part of the Barbican’s International Beckett season, and exudes all things Beckett by leaving the audience bewildered yet amused by its stylised approach to theatre.
The production felt dynamic and fresh however it stayed true to Beckett’s original wishes. The audience was first lead into a large darkened room lit only by hanging bulbs and a wall of dimmed spotlights. Each audience member sat on a rocking chair, which were all facing different directions in the room. Being a radio play, there was no stage, no live actors, no curtain and no sense of familiarity.
It seems Beckett likes his audiences to feel slightly uncomfortable in anticipation of his productions, and without any clues as to what they are about to experience.
When the spotlights finally darkened the room was plunged into darkness and the radio play began. All of a sudden you felt as if you were on the road with the lead character, as even the scratching of her walking stick against the stony ground could be heard and felt.
The radio play centres around Maddy Rooney. Rooney is an old over weight woman in bad health who has decided to surprise her husband Dan by meeting him off the 12:30 train. The play begins with her slowly drudging up Boghill Road. The characters and setting are all inspired by Beckett own childhood in Foxrock in Dublin.
During her laborious walk up the road she comes across three men, each character seems to have stared death in the face, either through their own experience or that of another.
Voiced by, Aine Ni Mhuiri, Maddy is a difficult and short tempered old woman but remains likeable through her wit and turn of phrase, a trait many of Beckett’s characters share.
Each character bring their own blend of audacity and intrigue to the story and allows you to ponder on Maddy and Dan relationship and the true meaning behind her sense of loss.
Although it was quite funny at times, it was peppered quite heavily with references to death, however these seem to be viewed with humour by Beckett who often diminishes the seriousness surrounding the subject.
Written in 1957 but only reaching audiences in 1986, All that Fall is comedy and tragedy diluted together to make a concoction only Beckett could produce.
The darkness of the room and glimmer of light to reflect the characters words or feelings transform your surroundings and leave you also sheltering from the rain which falls in Maddy and Dan at the end.
It transcends any singular genre and dips its toe into a bit of each leaving the audiences fully involved and emotionally stimulated.
All in all this is a complex radio drama but an experience to not to be missed. If you were not sure about Beckett before now, this may be the play that changes your mind
All that Fall plays at the Barbican Theatre until June 21st.