3 by Beckett - THUD Productions

Reviewed By Kelly Luck

Fringe Reviewer

For this year, THUD Productions presents three of Samuel Beckett’s short works. First is 1963’s “Play”, in which a man, his wife and his mistress (Chas Coffman, Ai Vy Bui, and Lynn McCutchen respectively) emotionlessly recite a narrative of the man’s affair and the fallout that came therefrom. The three characters are represented as emerging from funeral urns, suggesting their departed spirits chained to the world with their memories. At the end of the narrative – which jumps from speaker to speaker with none acknowledging the others – the recital begins again, as if these souls are condemned to endlessly ruminate upon their mistakes. It is a sharp and unadorned distillation of a story as old as time, endlessly repeated.

Next is “Not I” (1972), a monologue in which a Mouth (Briana Marxen-McCollom) breathlessly relates a jumbled narrative about a woman and the incidents in her life. The woman in the narrative spends most of her life virtually mute due to an unspecified incident in her childhood. The Mouth keeps coming back around to the incident in a sort of eternal fugue, breathlessly turning out the endless cycle of the unnamed woman’s history. Ms Marxen-McCollom does an excellent job in a difficult and breakneck performance.

Last is 1976’s “Footfalls,” a ghost story that may or may not have any ghosts. A woman, May (Deborah Madick), paces endlessly back and forth in the house she has scarcely left since childhood. Her only companion is her mother, a disembodied voice who might be a ghost, or the woman’s memories, or her imagination. Sometimes she addresses us directly, sometimes her mother does. The woman recites the tail of a ghost – possibly herself – who haunts a nearby church, pacing its aisles, and then tells the story of another mother and daughter (or are they?) and a curious incident at Vespers.

The three works are compelling and, if not necessarily interrelated, are thematically tied together. These characters are bound irrevocably to their pasts, unable to break out of their patterns, endlessly revolving it all. Beckett’s knack for dark absurdity is on full display here, and the THUD troupe do an excellent job of bringing his work to life.

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