Irish actress Lisa Dwan has just completed a two week solo season of three short works by fellow Celt Samuel Beckett, following critically acclaimed sold-out performances at the Royal Court Theatre and the West End. Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby completed its sold out run today (30 August 2014) at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room in Central London as part of the Festival of Love.
Lisa plays the part of Mouth in Not I, a nine minute monologue where the audience sees only a woman’s disembodied mouth suspended eight feet above a black stage. To achieve this Lisa wears black makeup, a black blindfold, covers her hair with black tights, then straps her head to a blackboard with a hole in it – so that her mouth stays in the single beam of light. She first performed the piece in 2005.
It’s certainly one of the most challenging stage roles with total sensory deprivation. “I can’t see or hear anything. It’s like driving down the motorway the wrong way with no handbrake – it’s terrifying… but it’s almost the most exhilarating role I’ve ever known,” Lisa said in an interview. The crucial thing is it’s done at speed – after a lifetime of virtual speechlessness, the character has ‘verbal diarrhoea’.
Completing the Becket trilogy is Footfalls, the moving story of May who moves back and forth like a metronome on a bare landing outside her dying mother’s room, and his most famous piece Rockaby with a woman recounting moments form her past sitting in her rocking chair. Metro called it “A mesmerising, heart-wrenching, terrifying triple.” The Standard simply said, “sensationally good” and The Telegraph said, “A stunning performance.”