AN EVENING OF BECKETT
To commemorate the death of Samuel Beckett, a year ago Saturday, WNED-TV broadcasts the premiere of "Stirrings Still" at 9 p.m. Saturday. The dramatic reading of Beckett's last prose piece is by Chris O'Neill, the transplanted Dublin actor widely known to Buffalo theater-goers. It was Beckett's American publisher and close adviser Barney Rossett who chose O'Neill. The half-hour program includes a brief introduction by O'Neill, the staged reading of "Stirrings Still," more comment by the actor (set in Buffalo's Kavinoky Theatre, where O'Neill frequently has performed) and finally a reading of Beckett's last poem, "What Is the Word." Anything by Beckett deserves our attention. O'Neill is steeped in Beckett and, as far as I know, has few if any peers at giving us one of the century's great writers. The man in "Stirrings Still," head on hands, sees "himself rise and go . . . half-hoping when he disappeared again he wouldn't reappear again," and later: "Oh to end no matter how no matter when time and grief and self so-called." For many the jewel of the evening may come last, the poem. In it, Beckett builds out of a few simple words and phrases -- folly, seems, glimpse, this, what, word, need to seem, away over there, and so on -- a plangent cry: "Away over there afar away over there afaint afar away over there, what?" O'Neill's interpretations and performances shine with humanity every step of the way.
-- Terry Doran