WATCHING the works of Samuel Beckett is like watching someone in an accident and thinking: ‘Thank heavens that isn’t me’, says veteran stage actor Geoff Kelso.
“Much like life in the real world is a bit bleak, so too is Beckett’s writing,” he said.
“It’s really a matter of how much courage you have to say ‘OK, I’m brave, I can look at the world, I can watch this’.”
Kelso takes to the stage this week in Black Swan’s production of Endgame – Beckett’s famous one-act absurdist play – marking his 22nd production with the company.
“The first production I did with Black Swan was in 1991 – Twelfth Night – the company’s inaugural production,” he said.
“I like the way the company has a very WA flavour to it. Andrew Ross placed that play in Broome, or a place like Broome, back at the height of the pearling industry in the ’30s and it set a standard for looking at the world through a WA lens so we aren’t just seeing a European view of the world.”
Back on board with key players and good friends of yesteryear, Kelso takes on the role of Hamm, a man who cannot see or walk.
Kelton Pell and George Shevtsov – who also appeared in that first production of Twelfth Night – act alongside him and Ross is back as director.
“Sometimes I think Beckett is such hard work and is so grim and then I start working on it and think ‘Oh, this is fantastic’,” Kelso said.
“It is a challenge because he is very specific in what he wants; even though he has passed away he has an estate that looks closely at his productions around the world to make sure people stick to what he wanted.
“Now of course with the internet they can search and go ‘What’s this mob doing?’. Previously there was a production of Waiting for Godot in Perth in the ’80s which featured all women and would not have been allowed.”
Kelso, a former stand-up comedian, left Perth for Sydney at 19.
After attending NIDA for three years, he returned to Perth to pursue his career on stage.
“I still get that same thrill from acting as I did at the start,” Kelso said.
“If I don’t feel nervous beforehand, something is wrong.”
Where: Heath Ledger Theatre
When: May 27 to June 11