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REVIEW | First Love | Gate Theatre Production

The one-act play First Love, by profound playwrite Samuel Beckett, is an excellent example of Beckett’s compelling storytelling.

Told on a bare stage, with the only accents being a bench and a door, a nameless man walks on stage in a beige overcoat and hat. Barry McGovern is regarded by many as one of the leading interpreters of Samuel Beckett’s work. Renowned for his touring productions of Beckett’s one man shows, his performance of First Love is utterly poetic.

Telling the story of when he was evicted from his family home after his father’s death. He found himself a park bench and began to survive as a tramp. Shortly after his eviction, he meets a prostitute who took him in and gave him a place to stay. After slipping into her bed at night, she surprises him with the new of her pregnancy.

McGovern captures the character through his thick Irish accent. Despite the protagonist looking rather shabby, his tone is warm and charming, drawing the audience in to his every word. He appears unpleasant, with his depraved view on the world. In spite of his hard-hearted persona, it is his storytelling that encapsulates the audience.

Beckett’s rich language is the gem of the play, the imagery he creates through his words are potent. Whilst the stage is empty, McGovern’s characterisation brings the story to life as his dialogue floats off his tongue. Bursting with wit, the narrator’s ramblings are engraved with subtle humour which spark plenty of laughter from the audience. He has mastered the pace of his speech, and his performance is simple yet mesmerising.

He questions the idea of love, and how we fall into it so easily without even realising. He appears solitary on stage, however his dialogue delves deeper into his emotional troubles and tormented mind.

****4 star

On until Saturday the 1st of October, tickets can be found here.

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