Embers

by Samuel Beckett


“Silence in the house, not a sound, only the fire, no flames now, embers. Embers.”

Henry sits on a beach, remembering and imagining stories and incidents from his life. Tormented by his father’s suicide, his own disfunctional family history and his failure as a writer, hallucinations and reality merge as he attempts to stoke the fire of his creativity.

First broadcast on radio in 1959, Embers takes us on a journey into the haphazard world of Henry’s imagination, a world of ever-shifting mental leaps, ruminations and ambiguities where creative storytelling and unfinished memories both real and unreal coalesce into one. Was Henry’s father washed out to sea whilst taking his evening swim, or did he commit suicide?

‘We never found your body, you know…’

Gavin Quinn Director
Andrew Clancy Sculptor
Aedin Cosgrove Lighting designer
Jimmy Eadie Sound designer
Andrew Bennett & Áine Ní Mhuirí Cast

**** “Two marvelous actors speak the text while hidden within the structure, a sculpture by Andrew Clancy, although they’re invisible to us for long periods. . . Lighting designer Aedín Cosgrove is, basically, a co-sculptor. The air around the head is full of strands, long chains of disc-speakers and wires that seem like a frightening, robotic kelp. Sound designer Jimmy Eadie has them saturate us in noise: there’s a dim feeling that we can almost see sound.”
Helen Shaw, Time Out New York

Winner of Herald Angel Award at the Edinburgh International Festival 2013

“Direction by Gavin Quinn was strong, moving the action along beat by beat. The feeling achieved is akin to someone slowly peeling an onion, each time revealing the next layer of emptiness and continuity underneath. The various technical elements come together to add to the piece’s overall sensory experience. The lighting effects by Aedín Cosgrove, alternatively illuminating different parts of the skeleton, was excellent and the sound design by Jimmy Eadie was quite realistic. We quickly get the feeling of the waves just out of sight.”
Jude Hollander, Epoch Times

“Pan Pan Theatre group is wise enough to not only stick closely to what Beckett has on the page, but to push it further. In a world of theater that is dominated by revivals and formulaic new productions, it’s exciting to see something that truly moves from one moment to the next without any idea of which direction its heading. We just have to go back almost 60 years to find it.”
Craig Hubert, Blouin Artinfo

***** “The drama of the piece though, comes not only from the superb vocal performances by Andrew Bennett and Áine Ni Mhuirí, but from the stunning, ever-shifting washes of light and sound across the strange, stark surfaces of the skull. Samuel Beckett can always be relied on to push our ideas about theatre to their limit; and in responding to his genius, Pan Pan have created a marriage of theatre and installation that seems to capture the hard, loving and implacable soul of the work, while giving it a new theatrical life.”
Joyce McMillan, The Scotsman

“As Bennett’s Henry recounts the death of his father, a thumbnail portrait of a man who literally lives inside his own head tumbles out in a rush of words that suggests that Beckett’s early brushes with sound art might just have found their time.”
The Herald Scotland

“Pan Pan’s Embers, a radio play staged for the festival, is perhaps the most intriguing work on show. The author was dissatisfied with it but the 1959 play is rich in Beckettisms. Although it is essentially a piece for voices, it was the Irish company’s most visually striking production.”
The Financial Times

“Embers goes much further than Quinn’s rightly acclaimed production of All That Fall in taking the text beyond the auditory experience it was intended to be. The sheer rigorous intensity created by Quinn’s fusion of the wonderfully spoken voices, Aedín Cosgroves’s fluid streamlike lights and Jimmy Eadie’s remarkable sound design is mesmerizing.” Fintan O’Toole, The Irish Times

“You come away with haunting images, some seen, some imagined: the dying fire, the washing surf, that arid outline of a skull….” Peter Crawley, The Irish Times

“In a masterful display of subtle lighting and, at times, truly terrifying sound design, this performance is one that will haunt an audience”  Totallydublin.ie

“For this, we have to thank Quinn’s direction, which elicits an agonised perfection from Andrew Bennett as Henry, matched by Áine Ní Mhuirí as Ada…” Sunday Independent

“Aedín Cosgrove manages through the way she plays with the lights to transform the skull, so it becomes at times as if it’s swathed in bandages, bits of it seem to emerge and project and other times it seems like it’s laughing maniacally it’s very much an engaging experience.”  Sophie Gorman on RTÉ Radio 1

“Pan Pan, stylistically and with the voices of Andrew Bennett and Áine Ni Mhuirí as Henry and Ada, bring a great deal of cohesion and clarity to Beckett’s ‘ragged text’…..In terms of sound, light and voice, it’s an arresting, powerful and at points nightmarish amplification of Beckett’s under-performed text.” John McKeown, The Irish Independent

“Director, Gavin Quinn joked (…) that it’s taken Pan-Pan two decades of their 22 year existence to prepare for Beckett. Last night’s performance indicates it was worth the wait.” Sarah Gilmartin via ‘No More Workhorse’

“Even without any actors in view, this was visually stunning, and impressively captivating. (…) This striking production of Samuel Beckett’s challenging radio play ‘Embers’ is a master class in light, sound and set design.” Threeweeks.co.uk

 

Dates

  • BAM Harvey Theatre (NYC)
    17 - 20 September 2014
  • Edinburgh International Festival
    24 & 25 August 2013
  • Samuel Beckett Theatre (Dublin)
    5 - 17 August 2013