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I’ll Go On – Reviewed

January 26th, 2014 | by Annie
I’ll Go On – Reviewed
Stage
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IllGoOn _KirkDouglasTheater

On Saturday afternoon we decided to take in the sights of a regentrified downtown Culver City. We had elected to imbue ourselves with a little bit of culture and were headed to the The Kirk Douglas Theatre. We were excited to see living legend Barry McGovern perform in “I’ll Go On”, an adaption of three novels by the Irish playwright Samuel Beckett. He was performing solo in a show of three separate parts based on Beckett’s novels “Molloy,” “Malone Dies” and “The Unnamable, published in the early 1950s, produced by the Gate Theatre, Dublin. Known for his gloomy outlook there is a surprising amount of humor dispersed with mordant verbosity.

Now I’m not a Beckett expert and I have to confess this was my first time ever seeing anything written by him performed live. It was much more enjoyable and much more humorous than I ever could have expected. It was also one of those rare experiences nowadays that I can honestly say I came out feeling more intelligent than before I went in. I was riveted to my seat the whole way through. The talent of Barry McGovern is unbelievable. To witness this man get through almost 90 minutes on the sparsest of stages with only himself to feed him lines and spur on the next, the fastest and quickest moving dialogue, at times scatty and at other times downright illogical, was amazing.

It’s easy to see why these three Beckett pieces are linked and performed together. Each deals with solitary and to be honest almost unlikeable characters close to or on their deathbed. In each piece we hear the ramblings, meanderings, and stream of consciousness of a man as he thinks back over strange, illogical but seemingly important events in his life. We also hear the inside workings of mind operating in full knowledge that he is soon to meet his maker. Mr. McGovern is masterful in his delivery. He uses his voice to draw out all the subtle variances of humor, vulgarity and wit to brilliant effect. It’s when he is at his most animated, most angry or most deranged that the most enlightened truth is arrived at.

My favorite part of the show was during the first play “Molloy” and his long account of how he managed to devise an ingenious system of storing and sucking 16 stones without ever having to suck the same stone twice in a row. We in the audience become just as obsessed in the intricacies of this needless and hopeless act as Molly himself and find great satisfaction when he comes up with a solution. My favorite line of the whole show comes in the second part, during “Malone Dies” when lying prone ona slab of marble in what appears to be a mausoleum he says “I could die today, if I wished, merely by making a little effort, But it is just as well to let myself die, quietly, without rushing things.” Such is the scabrous wit, written by Beckett and delivered by McGovern, which makes me want to go and read some of Beckett for myself!

Mr. McGovern resides in Dublin, Ireland where he is involved in stage, television and many well-known US film productions, including a Mel Gibson picture that included the famous line “Freedom!”.

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