Enthusiasm and Verve Inspired by… Beckett?

00:29 Sat 13 Jan 2007
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My friend Lev and I went to see three short Beckett plays this evening, by Custom Made Theatre. Beckett being Beckett, they were dismal, bleak, and absurd.

The longest was “Krapp’s Last Tape”, in which the lone, eponymous, protagonist listens to a tape made by his younger self, then records a short message concerning the current sorry state his life is in.

Major themes include death, loss, deterioration, regret, and the absurdity of attempts at self-reflection. The fact that Krapp is dismissive of his younger self, who is also dismissive on tape of a prior younger self, indicates dissatisfaction with the conclusions about self and life that the earlier selves reached. But Krapp himself makes no claim for a new understanding, and is clearly unhappy.

In other words, whatever conclusions we reach about life, our selves, our places in the world, will be laughed at bitterly by our older, disillusioned, disabused, jaded selves.

Who are themselves figures of absurdity who obsessively consider the past and where they might have missed chances at happiness.

It’s unusually cold here in San Francisco at the moment, and we saw the plays at the Off-Market Theatre, in a quite small room on the second floor of what appeared to be an office building. It was a perfect setting for these plays in particular.

The direction and acting were excellent. The other plays were “Catastrophe” and “Ohio Impromptu”, and these were also not uplifting, light-hearted skits about the richness of meaning and the fullness of life.

Nevertheless, Lev and I exited the play feeling enthused about life, having both reached the conclusion that if we are destined to end up like Krapp, we might as well make the most of it before things reach that point. And if our older selves consider us ridiculous for our enthusiasm, so what if that enthusiasm lets us live well along the way?

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