Footfalls and Rockaby ★★★★★ Jermyn Street Theatre | November 3 - 20, 2021


Samuel Beckett, who wrote these short plays, Footfalls & Rockaby, was a master of attempting to penetrate the impenetrable. Footfalls shows us a woman in her forties, May, played by Charlotte Emmerson. She is an ethereal presence, as she slowly paces back and forth across the stage – nine steps each way. Her heels click with a mesmeric and chilling relentlessness. We hear the recorded voice of her unseen mother, Dame Siân Phillips, who, it seems is slowly dying whilst May is caring for her. In Rockaby Phillips, dressed in a black gown, takes her seat on a rocking chair which begins to rock of its own volition, almost as if it were death holding her in its embrace. She remains still throughout and we once again hear her recorded voice, gently reciting memories and expressions of her own loneliness as she slowly fades away. Every now and then she murmurs "more" but the recitation continues until the inevitable end. These plays are described by director, Richard Beecham, as dramatic poems and defy explanation. We are told that we are seeing timeless evocations of some of the bleakest aspects of the human condition. Placing these two short pieces together only amounts to forty minutes' playing time, but it is a significant forty minutes which will particularly resonate with anyone whose life has been touched by Alzheimer's. Siân Phillips' soulful voice, together with the powerfully chilling images of the pacing woman and the rocking chair, will endure long after leaving the theatre.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Steve Gregson.

Want to save on tickets? See our Tips page.

When, Where, Getting there:

Most Popular

The Prince ★★★★★ Southwark Playhouse | Sep 15 - Oct 8, 2022

A Different Stage ★★★★★ Duke of York's Theatre | Aug 30 - Sep 25, 2022

A Night At The Kabuki ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Theatre | September 22 - 24, 2022

Love All ★★★★★ Jermyn Street Theatre | Sep 8 - Oct 8, 2022

Mika Rottenberg and Mahyad Tousi: Remote ★★★★ Tate Modern | October 9, 2022

Antigone ★★★★ Regent's Park Open Air Theatre | September 3 - 24, 2022

Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo ★★★★★ Sadler's Wells Peacock Theatre | September 6 - 17, 2022

Barb Jungr sings Leonard Cohen ★★★★★ The Crazy Coqs, Brasserie Zédel | September 2, 2022

Silence ★★★★ Donmar Warehouse | September 1 - 17, 2022

The P Word ★★★★ Bush Theatre | Sep 9 - Oct 22, 2022

The City Life Magazine | Reviews & Ratings