Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Nottingham Lace Market Theatre

All this week there are two plays for the price of one again, and this time spotlighting Samuel Beckett's lesser known plays "Not I" and "Happy Days"/ The Lace Market are renown for producing slightly off the wall productions and these two avant garde plays certainly fall into that category.

"Not I" was my favourite of the two and was considerably shorter and the most interesting of the two, both visually and aurally. Set in pitch black with just a spotlight on a mouth (and a lovely set of teeth), owned by Maeve Doggett, about eight feet above the stage, This is a monologue about a woman of about 70 years old who was abandoned after birth and it seems suffered some trauma in her life which is not clarified, containing random sentences, some often repeated. In the darkness there is also "The Auditor" who is a shadowy figure who makes four movements only.

"Happy Days" is a two hander with the majority of the script being performed by Cynthia Marsh as Winnie, with just a few sentences from Daniel Bryant as Willie, and is one of Beckett's happy plays! Winnie is buried in the sand up to her chest, in the second half it rises to her neck, and is in the mode of a seaside postcard.

As in "Not I" there are lots of jumbled ramblings, although not as frantic, and again many terms and phrases are repeated,and also again quite difficult to get the gist of what the theme of the play was. Beckett though has stated that "strangeness was a necessary condition of the play". Maybe a little too strange to keep focused and I found my mind wandering at times. In the second act of the play it gets decidedly more depressing and the image of her disappearing further into the sand (well I assumed it was sand) could well be a visual image of her life, sinking ever deeper.

This I think is my first taste of Beckett, although I knew of his "Waiting For Godot", so didn't really know what to expect, but they are odd little plays and you have to applaud the Lace Market Theatre for daring to be different. The problem with "different" though is that theatre goers are always a little reserved with "different" and this showed with the amount of audience members in attendance.

"A Beckett Evening" is on at The Lace Market Theatre until Saturday 24 May 2014

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