An immersive experience

Simon O’Connor performs a monologue of a Beckett novella in Company, to be staged this weekend as...
Simon O’Connor performs a monologue of a Beckett novella in Company, being staged this weekend as part of the Dunedin Fringe Festival. Photo: supplied
Allen Hall Theatre
Friday, March 22

Company is a performance of a 1979 novella by Samuel Beckett and it is the first time a theatrical adaptation has ever made its way to New Zealand.

What boasts itself as a labyrinthine text was made inviting and alluring by director Richard Huber.

Company — part of the Dunedin Fringe Festival — is fundamentally a sensory experience and an exercise in imagination, about a man alone in the dark.

Plunged almost completely into darkness, the performance is utterly immersive.

The sole performer, Simon O’Connor, is a marvel to behold with a magnificent stage presence.

His use of language is enthralling and every enunciation feels deeply personal.

O’Connor’s voice, the light and sound are each characters of their own.

What could only be described as ghostly TV static blended with the creaks and groans of the theatre and audience members shuffling in their seats, to create an atmosphere I haven’t quite felt before.

O’Connor pits the speaker’s third person narration of themselves against their second person recollection of memories, with glimmers of first person realisations and axiomatic absurdisms somewhere in-between.

The third person mental contrivances were unexpectedly funny, such as calculating the mathematical proportions of a woman sitting on a piano stool.

The performance ultimately speaks to the follies of trying to make sense of ourselves and the depersonalising act of self-perception — with some dark turns into delusion and madness.

While Company may initially feel elusive and impenetrable, I challenge anyone to scrabble around in the dark and see what answers you may find.

Company will be performed again today at 2pm and tomorrow at 7pm.