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Warwick Arts Centre, Beckett's Room: Review

Beckett’s Room, Warwick Arts Centre, until Tuesday, Dec 7

By Ashley Hayward

I was feeling somewhat dubious when I read that I was going to watch a play where no actors actually appear on stage. However, after spending an hour and 25 minutes seeing objects miraculously move around the set and listening to various character’s voices and sound effects through headphones, I was able to reflect on a truly innovative and captivating production.

The stage represented the Parisian apartment where the acclaimed playwright, poet and novelist Samuel Beckett was in hiding along with his partner Suzanne before fleeing the Gestapo during WW2.

Technically, the play was brilliant as we witnessed typewriters typing by themselves, cigarettes lighting in mid-air, shadows being cast by people who weren’t there and even the lavatory seat rising and toilet paper being used!

We heard the voices of the two main characters as well as gestapo officers, friends, the concierge and also witnessed some highly skilful puppetry.

I found the experience very similar to listening to an excellent Radio 4 play but with the added benefit of having the scenery supplied.

The 3 Acts were interspersed with powerful video footage which showed the realities of a country under occupation, the horrors of war and the courage of those prepared to stand up to a totalitarian regime

The loving relationship between Beckett and Suzanne and the mutual support they provided was beautifully portrayed. There was a lovemaking scene where I actually felt that I was intruding.

The scripts also contained amusing references to Beckett’s work especially ‘Waiting for Godot’ when, for example, the gestapo officer said they were ‘Waiting for Beckett’ and the two main characters found that the only had a carrot and a turnip to eat.

Beckett and Suzanne actually escaped from Paris and moved to the South where Beckett worked for the French Resistance. He was later awarded medals for his work and bravery but very rarely mentioned it in post-war years However I do believe that, if he had the opportunity to come back and watch this

production, the old boy would probably approve!

Photo by Kyle Tunney.

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