Bill Irwin’s “On Beckett” Is Spectacular Acting

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On BeckettBy Karen Isaacs

 If you don’t get the opportunity to see Bill Irwin in On Beckett at the Irish Rep, and I’m told that the remaining performances are sold out, you have missed a master class on fine acting.

Irwin conceived and performs this almost one person show (a young boy joins him on stage near end for the closing scene from Waiting for Godot). The rest of the time, it is just Irwin holding the stage.

The 90 minute show, is not, Irwin says and academic discussion of Samuel Beckett but an actor’s perspective on the Nobel winning author. He intersperse his thoughts and memories of Beckett and his works, as well as some personal memories, with performances of excerpts from Beckett’s works.

What is such a joy is that while he talks and does parts of Waiting for Godot, which Irwin has done twice on Broadway, he also brings to life \non-plays by Beckett.

I suspect that only someone who has studied the author extensively would have read the novels, The Unnamable and Watt. He gives us fine selections from each.

But three of the pieces are from Texts for Nothing, numbers 1, 9, 11. In each he brings the text to life and creates a character that you will identify with and be interested in.

Of course, Irwin connects Beckett to clowning and in addition to his fine acting, his incredibly skilled clowning is used effectively.

On Beckett is one of the finest performances I’ve seen in many years. Perhaps he will bring it back to the Irish Rep for a longer run.

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