Premiere: 23rd September 2019, Gate Theatre Dublin

Review: Independent on Sunday

Did Beckett run from the void, or into it? Beckett's Room asks the question. Beckett merely showed us the void without comment. But what this extraordinary play without actors does is to give us a visualisation of the nothingness at the centre of Beckett's work: a nothingness that bursts its own seams with anguish and with the echoing sound of silent howling….

…It's an extraordinary piece, given a quiveringly terrifying life through the voices of Brian Gleeson and Barbara Probst as Beckett and Suzanne, and an equally, drainingly wonderful support cast of the voices that peopled and shadowed their lives in the years that formed Beckett's genius. Technically, it's superb; intellectually, it's devastating; emotionally it's searing.

Full review here

Review: Irish Times

There’s no better audience than young people, enthuses a sinister visitor to Samuel Beckett’s apartment in Nazi-occupied Paris in 1942: “Never looking for meaning, only magic.” In Dead Centre’s wildly ambitious co-production with the Gate Theatre, on the other hand, there is meaning in its magic, depicting this furtive and formative time in the writer’s life as an elaborately conceived disappearing act. We do not see a cavalier Sam and his much warier partner, Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, on Andrew Clancy’s two-tiered set, but we hear their voices and observe their trace. Beckett’s chair swivels as he types out coded messages for the Resistance. Suzanne’s body, and even her breathing, leave impressions on a battered sofa. Like Godot, they are conspicuous by their absence…

If that asks you to see Beckett’s life in his work, the play finally becomes more thesis than biography. In one interlude, José Miguel Jiménez’s excellent video work erases figures from Paris’s streets, before Beckett’s artists friends admit to never seeing a body during the war. Yet they must recognise them. And what is more difficult, they must find new ways to represent them. That is where Dead Centre make meaning from their magic, with an outline of how Beckett came to depict the unimaginable, if we’re willing to see it.

Full review here

Review: Musings in Intermissions

Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnil, a vigilant member of the French Resistance, arrives at her Paris apartment with alarm. She warns her boyfriend Samuel Beckett that the Gestapo weren’t convinced by her cover story, and that their home might come under attack, in Dead Centre’s extraordinary new play Beckett’s Room.

Beckett has yet to become the breakout playwright of Waiting for Godot, but that play's famous no-show inspires how this story is told. Dead Centre’s wonderfully imaginative script, written with Mark O’Halloran, is a play without performers. Suzanne and Samuel come and go in ghostly movements, their presence animated by elaborate puppetry and painstaking lighting. Her coffee cup floats by the kitchen sink, calming her nerves, while his chair swivels playfully behind his desk. Such is the achievement of Bush Moukarzel and Ben Kidd’s miraculous production that both characters are present in their absence…

For a play without performers, it’s heartwarmingly intimate… the play’s strength lies in its touching tale of survival. At one point, Samuel turns to Suzanne as if it were a fresh realisation. “Now I see you,” he says. No one else can see them, in their own private void, away from a world at war.

Full review here

BECKETT’S ROOM was produced in co-production with the Gate Theatre, and presented as part of Dublin Theatre Festival.
Co-commissioned by Irish Arts Center and Warwick Arts Centre.
Development supported by Trinity Creative Challenge and the National Theatre Studio
Supported by the Goethe Institute and Dublin City Council.
Supported by the Arts Council

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