Saturday, February 24, 2024


We went to see the National Theatre's Vanya yesterday (HD broadcast at the movie theater) -- a one person show with Andrew Scott playing every role.

Do you need to know the Chekhov? I don't know. But Scott is just amazing. The Times and Guardian missed the point (though they acknowledged that his performance was a tour-de-force. But what he did was essentially to land halfway between Chekhov and Beckett. "Thus play I in one person many people," says Richard II, and that's what he does. It brings home the loneliness of the world, just as Beckett will later. And it got me thinking about Beckett's dramatic career, how we go from several people alone (Godot, Endgame) to one person mostly alone and covering for her loneliness through an unending stream of cheerful and optimistic conversational gambits (Happy Days) to a person entirely alone, but talking to his past self (Krapp to the void-filling desperation of complete solitude in which the speaker is trying to create a simulation Not I. I hadn't quite thought of it as that kind of progression before, but now I see it. And Scott's Vanya belongs to that progression somewhere, both before and after it. He makes you see what Beckett is doing, and makes you see how Beckette makes you see what Chekhov is doing.

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