by Amy Flora
I am an adult who is afraid of the dark. This has previously been a source of embarrassment for me, but I have since accepted who I am and will proudly use my nightlight. So, with this in mind, I was very nervous about “seeing” a production of Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall at Wilton’s Music Hall in London.
The BBC asked Samuel Beckett to write a radio play in 1957 and in response he wrote All That Fall. The play follows Mrs. Rooney who is going to collect her husband from the train station and the couple’s subsequent walk home together. On Mrs. Rooney’s walk, she encounters locals and takes the time to unburden her woes on them.
Samuel Beckett had very rigid beliefs concerning appropriate interpretations of his works, beliefs that the Beckett Estate now upholds. Beckett refused to allow any of his plays to be made into films and would not allow All That Fall to be produced in a visual medium.
In keeping with the Beckett Estate’s wishes, theatregoers were instructed to wear eye masks during the hour-long production. The open-concept theatre allowed the actors to walk within the crowd, even sitting in empty seats to deliver lines. The result was an overwhelming and highly intimate experience. The mask forced me to focus my entire attention on the voices and the narrative.
As the cast moved about, their voices travelled across the room, giving me a real sense of a woman in transit. The mix of Irish accents added an additional layer in creating these very distinct characters, despite my being unable to see them. In addition to the cast’s voices, there was a small soundtrack of “special effects.” Sparsely used, these background sounds filled the room, giving me a sense that there truly was a train coming past.
I walked out of the play in a daze, not entirely sure I had understood the experience. It was so immersive and intense, I found myself thinking about it for days after, revisiting my feeling of sitting masked in a chair.
Note: The author’s ticket was provided free of charge by a cast member.