What Where/ Footfalls/ Come and Go

In What Where, four characters (three of which are played by Gary Lewis) appear at intervals, all dressed in the same long grey gown and with the same long grey hair. Bam controls the others, sending them off to confess to an unnamed crime. Time passes and he repeats the same questions and actions. Interrogation and torture are the main features of the action, leaving us with an image of a brutal and changeless world where each character will be interrogated in an endless cycle.
Filming Beckett’s work allows people to learn something different and that’s what made this project so worth doing, says director Damien O’Donnell (Thirty Five Aside, East is East). Beckett was deliberately ambiguous, so you dig to find your own relevance. Good art is open to interpretation. What Where is about the abuse of power and there is a brooding, palpable evil throughout the text. Filming allows you to show a close-up of a terrified man, bringing a different edge to the work. (12 mins.)

In Footfalls, a daughter tends to her sick mother. In four scenes, the play dramatises a slow fade to impalpability. What emerges is the burden of caring, the love that sustains that burden and what that love costs. In the first scene, May paces back and forth, engaging in dialogue with the disembodied voice of her mother. In the second scene, May’s voice is subsumed into the disembodied voice, which speaks for both mother and daughter. May continues to pace slower still, her footsteps becoming more dominant as the action become less and less visible.
Starring Susan Fitzgerald and Joan O’Hara, the film of Footfalls is directed by Walter Asmus, who was Beckett’s favourite director and who previously mounted distinguished versions of the play for the theatre and for German television. (28 mins.)

Come and Go has only 121 words in all, with Beckett’s note being almost twice as long as the play itself. Three women meet in a softly-lit place, calling to mind the witches in Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Seated on a bench facing the audience, they reminisce about their school days. Each woman leaves briefly and in her absence the other two disclose an appalling secret about the third. Irony accumulates relentlessly as the confidences are shared about each woman. In director John Crowley’s film, Paola Dionisotti, Anna Massey and Sian Phillips play the three women. (8 mins.)

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