"Do not imagine, because I am silent, that I am not present." In an original take on the 1957 radio play All That Fall by Samuel Beckett, Irish theatre company Pan Pan has created a strangely captivating and intimate experience in its atmospheric sound chamber. Naked bulbs hang mysteriously from the ceiling, a wall of glaring amber lights looms in front, and rocking chairs are scattered throughout for the audience to sit on.
The play follows Maddy Rooney, a bitter and miserable old woman, making her way to the railway station to meet her blind husband. Wracked with pain, illness, and sorrow, she walks laboriously, her dragging feet providing a rhythmic beat to the soundtrack of the village life she encounters on her journey. Upon arriving at the station, she learns her husband's train is late, and he is fiercely reluctant to explain why.
Although the plot holds a definite simplicity, it simultaneously combines the roots of a black comedy, eliciting chuckles from the audience, and those of a bleak mystery.
What Pan Pan is presenting is a compellingly unique experience. The lack of visuals and live action means concentration is certainly required, but at no point is interest lost. The huge wall of lights and the intense surround sound is utterly immersive, and succeeds in getting the audience to latch on to every word with no distractions to take away from the dialogue. Even in the slivers of silence, the presence of the characters is always felt.
Sarah Tainsh is a pupil at Royal High School and this review was submitted as part of the Herald Young Critics project with Edinburgh International Festival