Samuel Beckett’s groundbreaking short play Not I will return to the Royal Court theatre for the first time in 40 years next month in a performance starring Lisa Dwan.
Playing three performances from 22 to 24 May, Not I is an intense monologue, set in a pitch-black space lit by a single beam of light, that sees a disembodied female mouth, floating eight feet above the stage, deliver a stream of consciousness spoken at the speed of thought, a performance that usually lasts 20 minutes.
Upping the ante for the play’s Royal Court return, Dwan will perform the monologue, which she first performed at the Battersea Arts Centre in 2005, in just nine minutes, the fastest it has ever been staged.
The actress, who was trained for the role by Billie Whitelaw, a close collaborator of Beckett’s who performed in the 1973 London premiere of Not I, has previously appeared on stage in Margot, Diary Of An Unhappy Queen at the Barbican theatre, Illusions at the Bush theatre and Beside The Sea, a show she adapted, produced and performed at the South Bank Centre in 2011. On screen, her film credits include Oliver Twist, in which she starred opposite Richard Dreyfus and Elijah Wood, and forthcoming historical drama Tailor Of Panama And Bhopal – A Prayer For Rain.
The show will open at the Royal Court’s Jerwood Theatre Downstairs following the final production in Dominic Cooke’s tenure as Artistic Director of the Sloane Square venue The Low Road, and each performance will be followed by a screening of an interview in which Whitelaw talks about her experiences of performing Not I, a panel discussion with Dwan, director Roger Michell and special guests, and an audience Q&A.