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A review by Vanessa Bunn for EXTRA! EXTRA!

 

 
Print room at the Coronet present
A Gare St Lazare Production
In association with Signature Theatre New York

Title and Deed

Conor Lovett in Title and Deed by Will Eno

Photo by Joan Marcus

 
by Will Eno
Directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett
Performed by Conor Lovett

 

Print Room at the Coronet

 
14 January – 7 February 2015
 

 

 

“I imagine myself striking out into the world, one foot in the grave, the other in my mouth, and how’s anyone supposed to walk like that?”

 

Conor Lovett is a nameless “slightly foreign” man. The stage he stands on represents a plain enough theatre or room. Lovett immediately crashes through the fourth wall by addressing himself directly to the audience who he has made an assumption about: “I’m not from here. I guess I never will be… I’ll assume you are though.” He alternately skips and strolls through an extended solo meditation on what it means to be from somewhere and then leave that place. He muses about the nature of love, the inescapability of loneliness and the almost universal impulse toward a seemingly hopeless hope. This London premiere of Will Eno’s second one-man play is directed by Judy Hegarty Lovett, the performer’s wife. Eno wrote this piece with Conor Lovett in mind and Lovett, justly, won the Stage Award for Acting Excellence at the 2014 Edinburgh fringe festival for the role.

Dressed in simply braced trousers, a dark top and a casual jacket, Lovett is alone on the stage, accompanied only by a bag containing a visible stick. Lighting is subtle and non-intrusive. Lovett’s movements are those of a nervous individual who’s half committed to telling his story to a group of strangers and is half frightened to death of doing so. At intervals Lovett addresses his whole self to someone particular in the audience with a sincerity that moves and unnerves in equal measure. Language is self-consciously dissected on the one hand whilst, on the other hand, Eno’s expert wordplay breezes into your consciousness and rubs you ‘till you’re tickled, or sore.

The nameless traveller could be from anywhere and is travelling for neither business nor pleasure.  Charismatic, endearing, relatable and unconsciously tragic-comic, he is a truly modern everyman. The character, though shy, is forthcoming and we learn about the customs around love wherever it is he’s come from. We’re poignantly told – “once in love it’s customary to reach for the saddest instrument you don’t know how to play” and try to play it. We learn that he was, obviously unsuccessfully, “taught not to talk about love.” His cards are held closer to his chest in other senses though and he retains a consistent air of intrigue even if his heart seems pinned to his sleeve at moments.

“Word” is uttered frequently in the play. In Lovett’s own accent (Irish) it sounds quite like “world”. This reverberates to such an extent that the two words almost intermingle and leave the inescapable impression that all of our ‘worlds’ are only the sum of the words we exchange in them or the collection of words we use to tell our stories. While I would resist hammering home some of the many Beckett comparisons made about Eno’s work, one can’t escape the fact that his writing draws attention to language and words and their uses and limits in a comparable way. Casting Lovett as the voice of the nameless wanderer has worked wonderfully in this striking production. “Words”, ponders our storyteller, “Ah, but they do the job.” Title and Deed is the kind of play that reminds that they sometimes, in the right hands and mouths, do so much more.

 

 

Conor Lovett in Title and Deed by Will Emo

Photo by Sara Krulwich

 
Box office and Information: 020 3642 6606
Print Room at the Coronet
103 Notting Hill Gate, London, W11 3LB
Tickets: £25/£17 concession
http://www.the-print-room.org/
 
 

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