Not I, Catastrophe and Rockaby Review

Jack Studio Theatre – until 7 March 2020

Reviewed by Claire Roderick


Angel Theatre Company return to the Jack Studio Theatre with another trio of short Beckett plays. Directed by John Patterson, this is a fascinating and thought provoking hour full of powerful performances.

In Not I, Samantha Kamras takes on the role of Mouth, with just her spot lit mouth visible through a hole in a black panel. Stuttering and starting through a voiceless woman’s recollections of traumas, babbling repetitions and long pauses before forcing out the words, Kamras uses much more variety and musicality in her tone than other performances I have seen, creating more immediacy in a highly technical and mesmerising performance.

The second piece, Catastrophe, feels like the light relief in the programme, although it has a lot to say about agency and the whims of the powerful, as the director (Stephen Donald) gives not picking notes to his white coated assistant (Joanna Clarke) as she poses Louis Fox until the visuals finally meet with his approval. The tiny adjustments and the assistants reactions to the archetypal powerful director create laughter, but the final moment from Louis Fox brings the audience back down with a punch to the guts.

Throughout all this, Anna Bonnett sits motionless on stage under a washcloth until she is uncovered for Rockaby. I once heard someone say that Rockaby was Miss Havisham on downers playing a human metronome, and can’t fault that description. Instead of mourning her nuptials, this old woman seems to be searching for memories of her mother and signs and reassurances of life among the windows she sees from her own as her empty existence is measured out by each rock of her chair. Bennett sits motionless as she rocks, voicing few words as she asks for more from the voice that accompanies her rocking, but slowly and almost imperceptibly portraying the demise of the woman in a masterful performance. The voice-over is repetitive and cheeriness, intoned in a rhythm which works with the action onstage to create an unsettling yet soporific atmosphere that is uncomfortable to watch but well worth the effort.

This production will delight lovers of Samuel Beckett and also be an entertaining introduction to his work.