Theatre Oobleck and the Neofuturists of Chicago, The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in an Envelope (partially burned) In A Dustbin In Paris Labelled "Never to be performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I'll sue! I'LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!"

Review in Issue 15-2 | Summer 2003

As the title suggests this is about Beckett, setting itself as a satire on the control Beckett exercised on his works in his will – any production of a Beckett play has to be followed strictly to the text and stage direction. Any added material, interpretations, subversions, omissions and rewrites will result in the show being closed down by the Beckett estate.

So this American company, aglow with great success at Edinburgh last year, bring us seven versions of early or forgotten works that Beckett has supposedly thrown out. The conceit has moments of sheer comic brilliance, capturing the cyclical nature of Beckett whilst lampooning the exactness of his designs. Sadly other moments fall short due to poor performance skills or a bad idea, turning the work into a silly sketch with a crass and cheap payoff.

It is not difficult to lampoon Beckett; the simplicity of his constructions packed with absurdity and repetition lend themselves to being sent up. To do it well requires sharp writing and good ideas. Although most of the ideas excellently parody both the man and his work, the Americanisms in the writing are a mistake, poking from the work like rusty nails. And the central theme that the ghost of Beckett is pursuing the performers fails to capitalise on the fact that it is his estate and their lawyers who police the work now, and that perhaps their intransigence may have the great innovator himself turning in his grave.

Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Mar 2003

This article in the magazine

Issue 15-2
p. 27