3 by Beckett - THUD Productions

Reviewed By Kat Whalen

Fringe Reviewer

The THUD company presents “3 by Beckett” in what is surely standout in this year's Fringe offerings. The three short plays feature sets that range from sparse to non-existent, but backgrounds weren’t missed, as the actors held the audience spell-bound with the force of their performances.

The first, "Play" featured three protagonists, Lynn McMutchen, Ai Vy Bui and Chas Coffman, as heads emerging from clay-like structures, endlessly cycling through what appeared to be the history of an affair. The actors looked straight ahead, not interacting with one another as they rehearsed the history of the affair, yet worked as a team to tell the tale in endlessly repeating sequence. Told with little affect (aside McCutchen's startling sudden shouts), and repeating numerous times, each iteration of the narrative only gained in power.

The second offering, "Not I," starring Briana Marxen McCollum, clad in a burka-like costume that left only bright red lips visible, was the somewhat disjointed telling and retelling of childhood accident that left her mute. Building in intensity as she described in broken fashion what had happened, McCollum seemed to be trying to make sense of, or explain an event that yet remains insensible.

The first two plays featured actors speaking as though to themselves even if in the presence of others. In the last, "Footfalls," Deborah Madick converses with the disembodied voice of her mother, while alternately pacing and standing quite still before us. There are long gaps in the conversation as the daughter first offers care-taking services, then tells a story about another girl, May. Though the two seem to care about one another, there is little that is personal in their back and forth, so the effect is that of a series of disjointed monologues.

In these three short plays we see Beckett showing us people stuck in a solipsistic universe. Though something of a trope, the THUD company gave us three quite different, yet all effective and moving portraits of the pain of trying, yet failing, to connect.

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