Michael Gambon spellbinding in Beckett’s ‘All That Fall’

Oct 15, 2012

Gambon and Eileen Atkins star in Trevor Nunn’s production of Samuel Beckett’s beguiling play

What you need to know
Samuel Beckett’s All That Fall, directed by Trevor Nunn, has opened at London’s Jermyn Street Theatre. Beckett’s play was originally written for radio and first broadcast by the BBC in 1957. This is the first time Beckett’s estate has allowed it to be performed on stage.
Nunn’s production stars Eileen Atkins and Michael Gambon.
Atkins plays Maddy, an elderly woman going to meet her blind husband Dan (Gambon) at the train station after work. On their return, Maddy begins to suspect that Dan may have committed a terrible crime.   
Runs until 3 November.

What the critics like
Nunn’s production of Beckett’s most Irish and accessible play is "luminous", says Michael Billington in The Guardian. Atkins conveys "the tetchiness, sadness and sorrow, as well as occasional bawdiness of old age", without diminishing our laughter. "Beckett at his most beguiling."
Atkins and Gambon are "a pleasure to behold", says Patrick Marmion in the Daily Mail. Atkins is a fiercely cranky old bird, but evokes a touching affection between her and Gambon, who is "as effortlessly spellbinding as ever".
It’s bleak but also genuinely funny, says Charles Spencer in The Daily Telegraph. Beckett "mingles comic craic with moments of desperate grief", and an element of mystery that is chilling. The production casts a revealing new light on Beckett and deserves "an extended life".

What they don't like
Nunn’s production can be soporifically slow at times, says Marmion in the Mail. It adds a good ten minutes onto the original radio playing time of 69 minutes, "yet it's a worthy relic that we are unlikely to see staged again".

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