News Ticker

Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot (Druid Theatre)

November 7, 2018

Ms. Hynes has the cast at full speed emphasizing slapstick and employing stylized poses and gestures.  There’s exaggerated choreography-like movement such as extending legs and dipping down, grabbing at each other and jumping. Movement director Nick Winston’s efforts are accomplished if overdone. The plethora of gags and set up punchline recitation gets laughs at the expense of emotional resonance. A few bits are quietly played due to the nature of those specific passages and are quite lovely. Overall, there is a lack of visceral depth to this arguably superficial treatment. The ending brings benign silence rather than communal sighs. [more]

On Beckett

October 18, 2018

Along with excerpts from Godot and a couple of Beckett's novels, Irwin relies heavily on several "arcane" prose pieces from a collection Beckett dubbed "Texts for Nothing." Irwin was first introduced to them by one of his mentors, the late Joseph Chaikin, a much-respected figure in the theater world who, like Irwin, did a lot of everything well. Using all of these works as a guide, Irwin traces the development of not only Beckett's artistic voice but his Irish one, too, returning it to the place it originally called home. [more]

James & Jamesy in the Dark

September 17, 2018

"James & Jamesy in the Dark" is apparently the product of a long trial and error rehearsal process according to the aforementioned program notes.  The self-involving process, unfortunately, seems to have insulated them from unintentionally synthesizing themes from the works of Samuel Beckett and Eugène Ionesco (isolation, repetition, existential angst).  Their endless wanderings about the stage mirror Waiting for Godot and their nonsensical dialogue could easily have come directly from" The Bald Soprano." [more]

BrouHaHa

January 8, 2018

Washington, D.C.’s acclaimed Happenstance Theater is making is New York debut with its 2015 show "BrouHaHa," which has been seen previously in Baltimore, Maine and New Haven. Taking for its theme what would you do if the world were about to end, this “clownesque escapade collaboratively devised and performed by the ensemble” follows the company of six through a series of skits and journeys almost all of which lead to death but from which the actors bounce back. While the company members are extremely talented, the material lacks impact and structure and cries out for both a playwright and a director. Although intended to be comic, there are no laughs in this show though it may provoke smiles. [more]

Appreciation of Peter Hall by Stephen Unwin

September 25, 2017

This was a man who loved words, the exact turn of the phrase, its cadence and where the stress falls, whether in Shakespeare or Pinter, Beckett or Stoppard, and his commitment to the nuance of language lay at the heart of everything he did. He used to tell a story about working with Dustin Hoffman on The Merchant of Venice and being delighted when Dustin turned up to rehearsal one morning declaring that ‘you can’t improvise this shit’. For Peter, the detail of the language was everything. A young director mocked him as an ‘iambic fundamentalist’: Peter was thrilled. Words, words, words were everything. [more]

Happy Days

May 13, 2017

At the end of this "Happy Days," it’s difficult not to be heartbroken by Ms. Wiest’s Winnie, particularly when she gets a rare glance at her significant other, Willie, who manages to crawl over the sand to serenade her with the “Merry Widow Waltz.” Jarlath Conroy playing Willie makes the most of his few scenes both behind and on top of the sandy mound. Somehow he even makes something of his slow crawl towards Winnie at the end. Seeing Ms. Wiest’s face at that moment is worth sitting through Beckett’s theatrical obfuscations. [more]

Sam & Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant

March 19, 2017

Beckett lived in rural France, and his nearby neighbor, Boris Roussimoff, helped him build a cottage on his property in 1953. Beckett grew close to the family, and offered to drive Andre to school, as the boy was reluctant to take the bus. This was because he suffered from gigantism and was self-conscious about his appearance and his difficulty in fitting into the bus. By the age of 12, he was 6’ 3” tall and weighed 208 lb. [more]

Beckett Trilogy: Not I /Footfalls/ Rockaby

April 15, 2016

Scholars, critics, actors and audiences have long been entranced and intrigued by these plays. They appear to reflect Beckett’s perpetual theme of despair and joy coexisting within the human condition. This mesmerizing production of "Beckett Trilogy: Not I/Footfalls/Rockaby" vividly captures that expression with Lisa Dwan’s titanic performance and its striking presentation. [more]

The Killer

June 11, 2014

Much of the work of the play is left to the smoke and lights added by the designers but these elements fail to create mood on TFANA's stage. Matthew Richards' lighting is suitable without becoming a real character in the play even when the scenes are performed on a bare stage. The off-stage noises created by sound designer Jane Shaw don't go far enough as Ionesco intended them to fill the stage with the off-stage crowds, locales and events that we don't see. [more]