You never get over your first love. Likewise, it’s pretty hard to stumble back into the world after nearly 90 minutes with Samuel Beckett—love, loathing, something more complicated and in between…the man had a knack for ferreting out our soft spots. And pressing. Hard.
It takes endurance to get through “First Love,” an early Beckett short story. Tonight’s audience seemed pretty equally divided between the entranced and the stone-cold asleep (luckily no snorers). One can only imagine what it’s like for Conor Lovett to take on the narrator’s nasty, compelling persona night after night. Let’s hope the man’s got a stiff drink waiting in his dressing room. And maybe a hug.
The one-man, bare-bones production, created by Gare St. Lazare Players Ireland, both exhausted and whet my appetite for the Beckett trilogy Lovett will be performing Tuesday. He and his director (also his wife) appear to have learned, very well, the hard lesson concerning how little needs to be done on a stage. Especially with a writer like Beckett; theatrical heavy-breathing here would be like over-seasoning a tomato sauce made with backyard produce: a travesty. (Portland, I visited one of your farmers’ markets this morning. My god.)
The Lovetts don’t showboat. But they make themselves, and Beckett, heard. I have a feeling that thoughts about tonight’s First Love will creep up on me for a long time to come. No doubt very late at night, when sleep is nowhere to be seen.