First Love

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

15/03/2011 - 19/03/2011

Auckland Arts Festival 2011

Production Details

Gare St Lazare Players (Ireland)

“Lovett’s supremely funny performance is such a pleasing triumph”
New York Times 

“Lovett turns out the lining of his every mental pocket to provide brilliantly entertaining reportage from the barest edge of the human condition”
Irish Independent

Acclaimed interpreters of Samuel Beckett’s prose, novels and short stories, Conor Lovett and Judy Hegarty Lovett present two of the great Irish author’s prose pieces – First Love and The End – at this year’s Festival.

First Love 
A compelling encounter with a man reflecting on his first romance, First Love is full of Samuel Beckett’s trademark dark humour. A masterpiece of Beckettian perversion, First Love turns the traditional love story on its head.

The End
Heartbreaking and hilarious, The End is the story of a man left to fend for himself in the world after he is expelled from the institution that has been caring for him. Leaving no detail of his existence unexamined, the protagonist endears himself to the audience with dignity, humanity and humour as he faces his impending death.

Hailed for their fresh and accessible interpretations, Conor Lovett, internationally acclaimed Beckett actor, and director Judy Hegarty Lovett, have collaborated on over 17 Beckett titles, touring to more than 22 countries with their precise and elegant work.

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre – The EDGE

First Love
Tue 15 Mar7pm | Wed 16 Mar2pm | Thu 17 Mar7pm | Sat 19 Mar2pm
Festival page

The End
Wed 16 Mar 7pm | Thu 17 Mar2pm | Fri 18 Mar7pm | Sat 19 Mar7pm
Festival page

Company links (touring website) 

Performed by Conor Lovett

1hr 25min, no interval

Openhearted Misanthropy

Review by Nik Smythe 16th Mar 2011

Two black pews, one short one a bit longer, lie adjacent to the left of a scuffed black stage.   Up from the front row jumps an emaciated looking bald man in a grey-green suit covering a bulky hood sweater and old-looking but shiny red-brown shoes. With a straightforward understanding that we are here to hear his story for some reason, he proceeds to tell it with a lyrical air of Irish candour.

The story is not really about the love you might naturally infer from the title, it’s just about the closest thing to love this tragic nihilist has had the entirely circumstantial fortune to experience. Although Conor Lovett’s perfectly pitched delivery intrigues me, there is never a sense of wishing I could be him. 

His dark countenance betrays little warmth; he clearly has none to express, nor hide. For the most part his metre is measured as he dutifully relates a bleak, cynical tale of resigned despair. A couple of times the character loses control but on the whole he has a contrarily easygoing nature: wounded but not quite desperate; derisive but not quite bitter or quite wanting for anything; almost condescending; fairly arrogant… and frequently hilarious. 

The spontaneity of Lovett’s delivery, often stuck for words or offering tangential asides (“The mistake one makes is to speak to people” ; “The more naked she was, the more cross-eyed”), belies the painstakingly precise words that Samuel Beckett rendered for this openhearted, misanthropic essay.

Indeed, given First Love was originally written for the purpose of reading as opposed to speaking, director Judy Hegarty-Lovett and her performing partner Conor achieve an impressive transformation from the page to the stage.
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