Footfalls & Rockaby by Samuel Beckett. Jermyn Street Theatre, London to 20 November 2021. Theatre Royal, Bath 24 Movember to 4 December 2021. 4****. William Russell.

Samuel Beckett’s short plays are frequently a problem – they can be over before one has become immersed in what is going on. Occasionally you are left wondering whether the emperor has any clothes to be honest. But these two short pieces – the evening lasts about 40 minutes – combine beautifully in Richard Beecham’s production and get deeply moving performances from Charlotte Emmerson as May, the run down daughter caring for her mother, walking the house in shoes too large for her hence the footfalls, and Sian Phillips as the unseen mother dying from something horrible and then as an old woman with dementia.
Jermyn Street has a fine track record staging shorter Beckett plays and these latest additions are as good as those that have gone before. Emmerson creates a drab resigned soul wearily going through a life not worth living and Phillips at 88, still at the height of her powers, unseen in the first play, is mesmerising.
It is a short evening. It is a sad evening. But it is also deeply a rewarding one.

May; Charlotte Emmerson.
Voice: Sian Phillips.
Woman: Sian Phillips.

Director: Richard Beecham.
Set & Costume Designer: simon Kenny.
Sound Designer: Adrienne Quartly.
Lighting Designer: Ben Ormerod.
Production photographs: Steve Gregson.

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