Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 31 August 2014

Reading on a masonic throne by candlelight

Miranda Richardson in Enniskillen Masonic Lodge
Miranda Richardson in Enniskillen Masonic Lodge

Veteran actress Miranda Richardson has declared a preference for new works to avoid the critical baggage that accompanies well-known roles.

Certainly in reading Enough, Richardson addressed one of Samuel Beckett's lower key works – one that's still ripe for interpretation.

A confessional narrative, the roles of writer and narrator are blurred: "When the pen stops I go on. Sometimes it refuses. When it refuses I go on."

Like everything Beckett wrote, Enough has been submitted to philosophical study – but some believe its relatively simple, straightforward text doesn't warrant over-analysis.

Regarding his most celebrated play, Waiting for Godot, Beckett exclaimed: "Why people have to complicate a thing so simple I can't make out." This may well ring true for his entire body of work and particularly for Enough, one of his least experimental works.

A simple text then? Listening to Richardson reading from a Masonic throne and illuminated by tall candles, it was easy to overlook the sexual ambiguity of Beckett's narrator.

The central theme was clearly parting, but not so well defined was the relationship between the two protagonists. Father and daughter? "I cannot have been six when he took me by the hand," recited Richardson.

Perennial Beckett themes of memory, silence, religious barbs and the passing of time were interwoven throughout. Whole minutes passed, so too did the years.

Humour abounded. The old man's giant frame dwarfed the narrator. Bent double, his trunk parallel to the ground, legs splayed and sagging at the knees, he adopted this position so that the narrator can better hear his "ejaculations and broken paternosters that he poured out to the flowers at his feet."

Their life together was measured in miles walked and words spoken. The narrator seemed to be the silent partner in the relationship, whereas he spoke a hundred words per day. What has become of the old man? What will become of the narrator?

"What do I know of man's destiny?" recited Richardson slowly.

"I could tell you more about radishes."

IAN PATTERSON

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