Sounding Beckett at the CSC consists of three Samuel Beckett one-acts surrounded by abstract, largely atonal modern music interludes, played by a small string and wind ensemble. The plays, themselves are of course little more than concept sketches—a single, ambiguous tableau distilled to its barest essence by the most elliptical dialogue—and atonal, modern music is often itself about ideas and motifs similarly distilled, so it would seem like a perfect match. Unfortunately, it’s more like a hat on top of a hat: dramaturgical austerity partnered with musical austerity; it minimizes any humorous absurdity in the text, maximizes the ponderousness of introspection and desolation and feels rather like the Beckett you’re supposed to take because it’s medicinally good for you, rather than the Beckett who’s sinfully, disturbingly entertaining despite his subject matter. The actors Holly Twyford, Philip Goodwin and Ted van Griethuysen do a noble, purist job under the likewise all-correct direction of Joy Zinoman; but the concept itself defeats the enterprise.
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