By reciting Beckett’s novella verbatim, Conor Lovett isn’t undertaking
the easiest of tasks; even at his most conversational, Beckett can be
an uphill struggle. But for those who steel themselves for the
journey, First Love is immensely rewarding. This bleakly comic
tale is a single monologue that meanders through the protagonist’s
experiences of love and death. Beckett’s obsession with language makes
pieces such as this a kind of anti-poetry, desolate yet fertile.
The success of the performance is down to Lovett’s excellent timing;
he directs his considered verbosity to the audience, questioning and
responding to them when the occasion arises. I can’t imagine Beckett
being done more aptly; despite this – or perhaps, because of this -
it’s pretty grim and dry. This piece is unlikely to convert people to
Beckett; but those who have an affinity with his work will find this
production thoroughly rewarding.