No's Knife

Previewed 29 September 2016, Opened 3 October 2016, Closed 15 October 2016 at the Old Vic Theatre in London

The World Stage Premiere of Samuel Beckett's monologue No's Knife in London performed by Lisa Dawn and directed Joe Murphy.

"Where would I go, if I could go, who would I be, if I could be, what would I say, if I had a voice, who says this, saying it's me?"

When this production opened here in October 2016, Michael Billington in the Guardian said that "No's Knife is an adaptation of 13 prose pieces, Texts for Nothing, written by Beckett in the early 1950s. The result is a formidable 70-minute performance, but one where you feel Dwan and her co-creators strive to give a physical life to strange, metaphysical texts... for all the vigour of the presentation, I still feel these texts are not inherently theatrical... By staging it, however ingeniously, Dwan and her team give Beckett’s mysterious prose a reckless visibility." Henry Hitchings in the London Evening Standard thought it was "an enigmatic and demanding seventy minutes, which takes us deep into the realm of the subconscious. Lisa Dwan is a superb interpreter of Beckett, and she brings a formidable energy and nimble sensitivity to this production." Claire Allfree in the Daily Telegraph commented that "Lisa Dwan, with her director Joe Murphy, attempt to impose a degree of structure but over the course of 70 somewhat long-feeling minutes her monologue loses traction. Still, even amid the vast Old Vic auditorium, this remains a powerfully intimate show, right to the minute it ends with Dwan at the edge of the stage, talking straight into the audience, her voice our own." Dominic Maxwell in the Times wrote: "The audience puffs out a bit of laughter at some of the morbid one-liners but actually, truth be told, this onslaught of pain and regret and defiance and defeat works better written down... That's despite Lisa Dwan once again proving herself a phenomenal performer... Even when it feels as though you are watching a foreign-language show, her energy and finesse are something to behold. Yet because she and her co-director, Joe Murphy, have failed to supply the context for it, I'd gladly trade some of that wonderful acting for some clarity. It's both impressive and interminable."

"The texts are opaque and elusive. In the first, the character seems to be simultaneously standing at the top of a peak and lying at the bottom of a pit. In the second, she seems to be both on trial and the clerk of the court. They are best appreciated by abandoning the search for meaning and surrendering to the rhythms of Beckett's prose. This is gloriously delivered by Lisa Dwan, whose performance is just as committed if less virtuosic than in the Not I trilogy where the three characters were more sharply defined. She is in total command of the language, from the hallucinatory cadences to the intermittent humour. So it is all the more dispiriting that such a lyrical actress should feel the need to be miked." The Express on Sunday

"The texts were never intended for performance, so the playwright gives no clues as to where they should be set. Lisa Dwan has settled on an Irish bog, where we initially look down on her trapped body as she contemplates the impossibility of staying put, but also of moving on. Beckett's bleak humour is as haunting as ever, but there is no denying that this abstract piece is difficult to follow, and it is questionable how much it gains from being staged, as opposed to read aloud. Especially as - and this is heresy, I know - I found Dwan's performance increasingly off-putting as she soared up and down the operatic scale, abruptly changed pace and shifted from the colloquial to the poetic. Technically, it may be formidable, but a quieter, less intrusive performance might serve Beckett better." The Sunday Times

No's Knife in London at the Old Vic Theatre previewed from 29 September 2016, opened on 3 October 2016 and closed on 15 October 2016.