Tuesday, 9 September 2008

'fragments' by Samuel Beckett (Peter Brook)

Five short pieces by Samuel Beckett
A C.I.C.T./Theatre des Bouffes du Nord and Young Vic co-production

Direction Peter Brook
With the collaboration of Marie-Helene Estienne
Light Philippe Vialatte
Actors Kathryn Hunter Marcello Magni Khalifa Natour

at Young Vic


Rough for Theatre I
'i'm unhappy.'
'why haven't you killed yourself?'
'i'm not unhappy enough yet.'

As the programme notes say, this short piece 'compresses Endgame to a fragment'. A man with one leg meets a blind beggar. For a bit it looks like they can come together as a co-dependent unit - Billy pushing the chair and providing company in return for canned food and shelter. But the Billy is too close and the other too vicious and they remain locked in their own perfect miseries

Kathryn Hunter is compelling and traumatic to watch as she delivers this intricate monologue that has all the raw loneliness of living alone gazing through windows possibly or possibly not with dementia but certainly beyond living well or easily: 'at the end of a long day she said to herself, who else?, time to stop, to and fro, up the stair, ....'
Shattering and wonderful.

Act Without Words II
Magni as the permanently furious clown and Natour as the perpetually happy one are very funny as they are each in turn prodded out of their white sacks by the great prodder from the sky to perform the rituals of their day. It finishes with Magni on his knees praying - for release? For a change? For anything?

Another solo with Hunter dressed the same so this feels like a continuation of 'Rockaby' - again she holds your attention interest breath even but it is so short I cannot remember anything from it beyond a woman walking with purpose purposelessly

Come and go
The last piece is a wonderful bit of perfectly timed and honed foolery: three old friends ludicrously over-dressed in hats, costume earrings & coats meet on a park bench and one by one whisper scandal about each other: 'does she know?' 'please god she isn't told!'
Delightful and hilarious.

Brook on Beckett:
'... When he discovered theatre it became a possibility to strive for unity, a unity in which image, sound, movement, rhythm, breath and silence all come together in a single rightness. This was the merciless demand he made on himself - an unattainable goal that fed his need for perfection. Thus he enters the rare passage that links the ancient Greek theatre through Shakespeare to the present day in an uncompromising celebration of one who looks truth in the face, unknown, terrible, amazing...'

channel 4 interview with Peter Brook about this show:
theatre des bouffes du nord website:

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