All That Fall: re-imagining a radio play

All That FallA beautiful way to recall the intense pleasure, and sometimes pain, of listening!

The Pan Pan Theatre production of Samuel Beckett’s radio play All That Fall requires the audience to make choices in their engagement of this narrative. By providing rocking chairs arranged haphazardly, listeners must overcome a certain level of discomfort as there is no central viewing focus. And then to decide whether to sit still or rock …

Throughout the performance, my focus drifted between the characters and questioning my understanding of the experience. Thankfully, the lighting shifts in intensity provided spaces for watching – shadows of movements and others. During the climactic storm, I could smell rain: my senses had become attuned to the visual limitations. Being comfortable meant the production would probably draw to an end, and it did.

Read part of Jason Blake’s review from the Sydney Morning Herald:

Originally commissioned for the BBC and first broadcast in 1957, with Beckett’s leading lady Billie Whitelaw in the principal role, the play has us follow the decrepit, morbidly obese Maddy Rooney (“not half-alive nor anything approaching it,” she tells us) from her house in Boghill to the local railway station to meet her blind husband.

Encountering various identities along the way, some who help and some who hinder, her journey takes on the qualities of an odyssey – one beset by sadness and the ghosts of the past.

Directed by Gavin Quinn, All That Fall is the real deal in radiophonic terms, recorded with a full cast led by Aine Ni Mhuiri and Andrew Bennett.

Recorded “dry” with reverb and atmospheres sparingly applied, the most noticeable difference between this and a conventional radio broadcast is its dynamic range.

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