Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of Bill Irwin's ON BECKETT?

Review Roundup: What Did Critics Think of Bill Irwin's ON BECKETT?

Bill Irwin (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?), Finn O'Sullivan, and the creative team of On Beckett at Irish Rep celebrated their opening on October 3.

Bill Irwin can't escape Samuel Beckett. He has spent a lifetime captivated by the Irish writer's language. In this intimate 90-minute evening, Irwin will explore a performer's relationship to Beckett, mining the physical and verbal skills acquired in his years as a master clown and Tony Award-winning actor. Irwin's approach to the comic, the tragic, to every side of Beckett's work - including Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Texts for Nothing - will allow audiences to experience the language in compelling new ways. Whether you're encountering the Nobel Prize winner's writing for the first time, or building on a body of Beckett knowledge, this dynamic showcase is not to be missed.

Let's see what the critics have to say...

Ben Brantley, The New York Times: This skillful demonstration of the disease known as being alive, as diagnosed by a master playwright, is one I would recommend to any actor, student of literature or fan of tragedy and comedy. "On Beckett," which was conceived and staged by Mr. Irwin as an (almost) one-man show, carefully peels back the skin on an actor's fascination with, and interpretation of, its title subject.

Sara Holdren, Vulture: It always seems a touch sentimental to call a show a "gift" (not to mention dubious - most theater is far from free), but in the case of On Beckett, the oversize shoe simply fits. The brilliant clown Bill Irwin has brought his utterly delightful almost-solo show to the Irish Rep, and his astute, inquisitive engagement with the work of the existentialist titan feels like an act of professional generosity.

Helen Shaw, TimeOut: If Bill Irwin, the greatest clown in America, wants to talk to you at length about Samuel Beckett, you pick up your bowler hat and go. Irwin has a rubber face and liquid limbs, and, thanks to a lifetime of performing Beckett's work, he's got the writer's cadences ground deep into his brain.

Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review: What On Beckett makes clear is the inextricable link between the verbal and the corporeal in much of its subject's work, a connection that is perfectly suited to Irwin's distinct and varied gifts. Noting the variety of Beckett's influences, Irwin interprets passages from "Texts" and the novels Watt and The Unnamable with nods to James Joyce, vaudeville and the silent film era. Vivid in their specific detail, the different readings also reflect the universality of Beckett's sharp, bleak take on the human condition, and the transcendent beauty with which he expressed it.

Photo Credit: Jennifer Broski

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