Search

Theatre review: All That Fall at Jermyn Street Theatre

12:31 24 October 2012

Michael Gambon and Eileen Atkins in All That Fall. Picture: Polly Hancock

Michael Gambon and Eileen Atkins in All That Fall. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

Dame Eileen Atkins leads starry production of Samuel Beckett’s radio play with Sir Michael Gambon

The people at Jermyn Street clearly aren’t lying when they tell you its the West End’s smallest theatre.

Crammed in around a tiny stage – which you have to walk over to reach the loos – there are a mere 70 seats. To be honest it feels like even less.

So it’s quite a thrill to see the venerable talents of Dame Eileen Atkins and Sir Michael Gambon up close in such an intimate setting, directed by another titled veteran, Sir Trevor Nunn.

Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall was written for radio in 1956 and here it is staged in a manner that falls somewhere between a radio reading and a fully-blown production.

There’s little in the way of movement or set design and the cast all hold scripts, while old fashioned microphones hang from the ceiling, in case you were unsure what to expect.

But through the use of sound effects and the flexing of the cast’s considerable strengths, and above all Atkins’ enthralling turn, the audience is whisked away into the Irish rural setting with no trouble. Oh, and Beckett’s pinpoint and melodic language doesn’t hurt.

Atkins is excellent as the elderly Mrs Rooney, who is making her way to the train station to surprise her husband on his birthday. (That’s about the size of it when it comes to plot).

It’s a wonder that she bothers: every step of the journey is a trial, the cast of characters she meets along the way all a gruelling nuisance. Yet aided by Beckett’s writing, Atkins pulls off the difficult trick of remaining deeply entertaining while moaning incessantly.

When her husband, Gambon, appears, he is similarly consumed with misery, as proceedings take on a dark and mysterious hue. Gambon inhabits his role with equal gusto, but it is Atkins who makes the show.

* All That Fall is at Jermyn Street Theatre in Jermyn Street, SW1, until November 3.

0 comments

Latest Entertainment Stories

Yesterday, 12:04
Den: A simple, stripped back design lets the food do the talking

You say umami and I say tsumami...

Thu, 10:38
Paul Foot

Ahead of his Union Chapel show, the surreal comedian tells Alex Bellotti why - to become more famous - he needs more people to hate him.

Wed, 15:35
Milly Finch Jane Byass in Out of The Cage Production Photos. 
Park 90, Park Theatre. Photo Credit : Richard Davenport

This may be a worthy tale of the women of World War I, but it doesn’t sit naturally on the stage, says David Winskill.

Wed, 15:25
l-r: Jenna Augen, Gina Bramhill and Ilan Goodman in Bad Jews at the St. James Theatre. Picture: Robert Workman

Joshua Harmon’s razor-sharp play about Jewish culture could hardly be more timely, says Alex Bellotti.

Most read entertainment

People thought the Deputy Prime Minister was pretty funny actually.

Brothers: The David Haines Story, will be broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland at 10.30am on Sunday.

Over £30,000 has been raised in a couple of days for a mugging victim, despite the goal only being set at £500.

Digital Edition

Image
Read the $m.global.archantvariables.NewspaperTitle e-edition today E-edition
Family Notices 24
Our trusted business finder