herald

Thursday 17 August 2017

Review

Samuel Beckett has risen from the dead. Actually, he appears to have woken up in the afterlife. And, he's a vampire; a walking, talking, pontificating blood-sucker, donned in his finest black attire. Or, at least, that's what the ventriloquists dummy in the corner keeps telling him.

'Dummy' doesn't require assistance in the speech and movement department. Dummy, we believe, is Mr. B's conscience.

Unfortunately, Mr. B doesn't seem to be bothered by the why, what, how and where of his current predicament. What's important to Mr. B (and writer Brian McAvera) is the 'who'.

Who was Samuel Beckett? Well, buckle up, folks - we're about to uncover the deepest, darkest 'secrets' of the late, great Irish playwright and poet. Sort of.

What we have here is a surreal, over-ambitious and over-played two-hander that, though promising on paper, struggles to find its feet where it matters. Clearly, the Directions Out Theatre Company is going for the absurd and, to an extent, I admire their intentions.

MUSIC-HALL

Beckett slugging it out with his loony conscience in limbo about whether or not he was a good boy on earth? Hot damn, what an idea!

Alas, In Search of Mr. B is in need of a better script, the hazy follow-through (all scattered history lessons and tiresome music-hall skits) amounting to little more than a passable exercise in physical theatre.

Incidentally, Bryan Murray makes for a fabulous dummy (nice make-up, too). Michael Bates does good Beckett (or, at the very least, an annoying poet in a bad hat). But their efforts are wasted. At one point, Mr. B declares how real drama resides in the elimination of plot … yeah, we're just going to let that one linger.

Dummy pokes fun at Beckett's sex life. Dummy brings up Beckett's time in the French Resistance. Dummy mentions the car crash. Dummy slags off Joyce. Dummy considers Beckett a slacker. In return, Mr. B threatens to kill Dummy. Over and over … and over again.

The trouble is, there's no direction. On a basic storytelling level, In Search of Mr. B ties itself up in knots. It's rather reckless with its timelines, too.

Come to think of it, it's like an episode of Bottom meets This is Your Life (seriously, Dummy beats Mr. B with an inflatable hammer - one of a handful of silly, joke-shop props). The dialogue may be fancier, but it's also frightfully dull.

Again, Murray and Bates have a marvellous time winding each other up, but the jokes aren't all that funny, and the novelty wears off around about the time that it becomes clear that In Search of Mr. B is going absolutely nowhere.

It's supposed to be a comedy about life, love and the afterlife, and all we get, really, is the life, via a series of bloated character exchanges and tedious sketches. And I still don't get the vampire bit.

Running until April 4 HHIII

> CHRIS WASSER

Promoted articles

Entertainment News