Title and Deed
A play written for Irish theatre touring group the Gare St Lazare players, Title and Deed is a spectacular one-man show that comments on human nature.
Written by Will Eno the play takes a look into the ambiguousness of the human mind, frequently asking “Who knows?” The one and only character is played by Conor Lovett, husband of the show’s director, Judy Hegarty Lovett. This marital team are probably best known for their various takes on Samuel Beckett’s plays and have toured for over a decade performing on stages from Cork to Dublin to New York and in November they will be travelling as far as China.
Conor Lovett plays a nameless man talking to a ‘little clump’ of people. He laments the fact that “people don’t gather anymore” but more to the point, he dissects the human psyche through self-depreciating humour and well thought out philosophical remarks.
“Love is a many splintered thing” causes a ripple of laughter through the audience, but then one pauses to think about it and sees the truth in those simply put words, supposedly quoted from the nameless man’s friend Brian. “The eyes are the windows into the eyes” is another such comment, again quoted from a never seen Brian and again it is plain truth hidden in humour. Personally I’d be delighted to meet this Brian and pick his brain for a few hours.
Conor Lovett’s character is endearing in his well-worn, pre-loved clothes. The manner in which he holds himself on stage suggests an innocence that makes it easy to listen to his ramblings. But there is something more to the character. The slight steel in his eyes or the harsh way he refers to his homeland as a “lying, dying, senile old hag” keeps the audience wondering if there might be a violent man beneath this naive exterior.
Perhaps this is the point. “I like to think I’m a good person,” the man on stage says, “I mean, not deep down.” In a way, isn’t that how we all feel a bit? That we hope we’re good, but in a way we know we’re not? Or perhaps, as he goes on to say “maybe [we’ve] been adapting to the wrong surroundings”.
You can feel awkwardness and humility from Mr Lovett’s character and the expert direction by his wife creates a certain intimacy with the audience so that it is not a stranger before you talking, but rather a friend you’re getting to know. If you happen to be travelling to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this year, I highly recommend taking an hour and 15 minutes to see this performance in the Assembly Hall, you might even learn something about yourself while you’re there.
Photo c/o newyorker.com