You Write The Reviews: Fragments, Young Vic, London
Wednesday 03 September 2008
The theatre is full. Two ushers stand in front of the empty stage. The chattering stops, and the lights go out. Two men come on stage: Khalifa Natour plays A, a depressed blind violinist, and Marcello Magni is B, an angry disabled man in a broken wheelchair. B sees the advantages of them both living together and tempts A with the corned beef and potatoes he cooks. A relates how he lost "his woman", who made him crawl on all fours and left him when he stood up: "I have always been unhappy." "Why don't you let yourself die?" B asks. "I am not unhappy enough," A responds. We see ourselves in what follows: violent, vulnerable and unable to recognise and therefore satisfy our many human needs.
This is the first of five Samuel Beckett pieces directed by Peter Brook in collaboration with Marie-Hélène Estienne. Kathryn Hunter performs Rockaby. Tiny and dressed in black, she personifies the fragility of existence, coupled with a quest for meaning. She sits on a chair, looking for another living soul. "Time to stop sitting in this chair; must go down to mother's rocking chair." Down she goes, eyes piercingly searching.
In Act without Words, two men wearing only shirts and underpants deposit clothes on to the floor before climbing into plastic bags. In the morning, a pointer descends and pokes a bag. Its occupant steps out, grunting and moaning as he puts his trousers on back to front; he takes a carrot from his pocket, tastes it, spits it out and puts it back. Moaning and heaving, he drags the other bag along. At night, he undresses, panics and cannot find his trouser zip; he is relieved to find it at the back. He kneels to pray before climbing miserably back into the bag. The second man leaps happily out of his bag; he does some exercises, dresses, cleans his teeth, combs his hair, enjoys his carrot and skips along, happily dragging the other bag. He undresses at the end of the day, exercises, cleans his teeth and leaps back into his bag.
In Come and Go, three old women sit on a bench, each pair whispering secrets, childlike, about the third. Their facial expressions say it all. We laughed a lot, identifying.
Like the Greeks, Beckett believed that tragedy and comedy go together, helping us to know ourselves. Theatre was his ideal medium, using the magic of human contact to deliver his words. These three actors would have delighted Beckett. A splendid theatrical event.
To 13 Sept (020-7922 2922; www.youngvic.org)
Barbara Withers, Freelance writer, Hampton Hill, Middlesex
Art Piece taken off website amid 'severe security alert'
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Academy criticised after no non-white actors nominated
tvAn expose of hooliganism masquerading as an ideological battle
artLee Hadwin can't draw when he's awake, but by night he's an artist
‘Remember the attackers are a cold-blooded, crazy minority’, says Blek le Rat
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 The truth about 'girl things': Three cheers for Heather Watson's honesty
- 2 Man who held up 'hire me' sign at Waterloo station returns a year later with 'I'm hiring' sign
- 3 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 4 Tennis fan suing Australian Open organisers for 'failing to shade spectators' during Murray match
- 5 Men behaving badly: Urinating while standing, 'manspreading' and the gendering of selfishness
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Benedict Cumberbatch says Hollywood is better for black British actors: 'I think as far as coloured actors go it gets really difficult in the UK'
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction
Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
Photographer Matt Lankes' portraits of the cast of Boyhood influenced the film's storyline
British Muslim leaders outraged after Eric Pickles says followers of Islam should 'prove their identity'
UK terror fears: My jihadist son returned from Syria mentally scarred – now he is being ignored
Nigel Farage: NHS might have to be replaced by private health insurance
Billy Crystal: 'Stop shoving gay sex scenes in my face'
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners