(Michael Billington’s article appeared in the Guardian, 10/11.)
'It is a text written to come out of the dark," said Samuel Beckett of this radio play first broadcast by the BBC in 1957. But, although not conceived for the stage, it adapts perfectly to it in Trevor Nunn's production, which retains Beckett's orchestrated sound effects while giving the actors motion and visibility. And, in the case of Eileen Atkins as Beckett's heroine, it allows us not merely to hear but also to see a great piece of acting.
The play itself is Beckett at his most Irish and accessible. Springing out of memories of his native Foxrock, near Dublin, it charts the journey of an old woman, Maddy Rooney, along a country road to the railway station to meet her blind husband off a train. In the course of her travels, she meets a carter, a businessman, a racecourse clerk and a stiffly Protestant spinster. But the train she has come to meet is delayed. And, when it finally arrives and Maddy accompanies her husband home, we learn that a child fell out of a carriage in an accident for which Mr Rooney may have been responsible.