Beckett5

Critics

LemonMeter

81 %

Reviews: 16

Audience

LemonMeter

Reviews: 0

The KOAN Unit kicks off the new year with Beckett5, a quintet of darkly humorous, seldom-seen short plays by Samuel Beckett opening January 21 at the Odyssey Theatre. The evening's centerpiece is Krapp's Last Tape. Beckett's theatrical poem, one of his most personal works, is infused with his history, emotion and an abiding sense of irony as he captures the weight of regret for missed opportunity and lost love. Elderly and ailing, Krapp sits at his desk and prepares to listen to audiotape diaries he made thirty years earlier. Each of the evening's other four play is a splendid example of Beckett's mastery of minimalist structure. Considered by critics to be one of the playwright's most “perfect” plays (Beckett agonized over each individual line until they exactly matched his creative vision), Come and Go is described as a "dramaticule" on its title page and contains only 121 words. Footfalls features the character of May, wrapped in tatters and pacing back and forth “like a metronome” on a strip of bare landing outside her dying mother's room. Act Without Words II is a short mime play. A and B, asleep in their sleeping bags, are goaded into their respective lives by an unseen force. Although they never meet, they carry each other through life. In Catastrophe, a director and his assistant prepare an aged man for a public spectacle for a political purpose. One of Beckett's only politically-themed works, and perhaps his most optimistic, it was written in 1982 and dedicated to then-imprisoned Czech reformer and playwright, Václav Havel. Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) is widely recognized as one of the greatest dramatists of the 20th century. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. Best known for his play Waiting for Godot which launched his career in theater, he then went on to write numerous successful full-length plays including Endgame in 1957, Krapp's Last Tape in 1958 and Happy Days in 1960. Beckett's works capture the pathos and ironies of modern life, yet still maintain his faith in man's capacity for compassion and survival no matter how absurd his environment may have become. Performances of Beckett5 take place Jan. 21 through March 5 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Two additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Thursday, Feb. 16 and Wednesday, Feb. 22, both at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Saturdays and Sundays; $30 on Fridays; and $25 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, with discounted tickets available for students and members of SAG/AFTRA/AEA. There will be three “Tix for $10” performances on Friday, Feb. 3; Thursday, Feb. 16 and Friday, March 3. Post-performance discussions are scheduled on Friday, Feb. 10 and Wednesday, Feb. 22. The third Friday of every month is wine night at the Odyssey: enjoy complimentary wine and snacks and mingle with the cast after the show. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to OdysseyTheatre.com.

Reviews

Avatar

The Koan Unit consists of talented actors, who, under Ron Sossi's tutelage, are acutely adept at handling some of the most difficult theatrical styles, and that ability is on display here.

sweet - Ernest Kearney - ...read full review


Avatar

If Beckett is your thing, this production makes for an engaging evening, and these short plays are a great way to experience a broad spectrum of Beckett's exploration of life, death, loneliness, alienation and futility, and always with some wonderful dark humor.

sweet-sour - Catherine Siggins - ...read full review


Avatar

While the production overall is somewhat uneven, the performances by Hogan and Weisser make Beckett 5 worth a look.

sweet-sour - Kelly Hartog - ...read full review


Avatar

Beckett would have been proud. See this before it goes away;

sweet - Sarah Spitz - ...read full review


Avatar

If I had no other plays, movies, operas, and dances to attend to in the next few weeks (as, somewhat regretfully, I do) I'd return without reservation.

sweet-sour - Douglas Messerli - ...read full review


Avatar

Directed by OTE's longtime artistic director, Ron Sossi, the bill includes four lesser-known works by Beckett (Act Without Words II, Come and Go, Catastrophe, Footfalls) and the now-famous Krapp's Last Tape The actors, Alan Abelew, Beth Hogan, Diana Cignoni, Sheelagh Cullen, and Norbert Weisser, deliver well-honed, expert performances that bring these cryptic, metaphysical plays to life in vivid fashion.

sweet - Will Manus - ...read full review


Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

The cast of five protean actors — Alan Abelew, Diana Cignoni, Sheelagh Cullen, Elizabeth Hogan and the aforementioned Mr. Weisser — is superb. The performances, under the astute direction of Ron Sossi, are wonderfully detailed and very affecting as well as hilarious when hilarity is called for. Bravo!

sweet - Paul Myrvold - ...read full review


Avatar

The idea of putting together these rarely produced Beckett plays is great for the sole purpose of bringing new audiences to these pieces. The evening feels less significant than it should. Minimalist doesn't have to mean minor, and Beckett is a major player in the world of dramatic literature, but unfortunately these pieces don't feel weighted enough to create a unique theatrical experience. As it is, this production serves as an exposure to important dramatic literature and not the exciting theater it should be.

sweet-sour - Patrick Hurley - ...read full review


Avatar

Director Sossi's production is polished and assured, and the actors perform impeccably. I wanted to like it, I really did. But I just couldn't manage it. Maybe Beckett is an acquired taste which I never acquired. Or maybe I'm just a Philistine.

sweet-sour - Neal Weaver - ...read full review


Avatar

...And knowing that the Odyssey's resident company of superb veteran actors, the KOAN Unit, under director Ron Sossi, is bringing the works to life, we are assured the production will be deep and sharp.

sweet - Dany Margolies - ...read full review


Cynthia Citron

Brought to life by five extraordinary actors, the scenes offer a range of emotions from wonder to apprehension, meditation to introspection, and every once in a while, but not too often, a small smile at Beckett's playfulness.

sweet - Cynthia Citron - ...read full review


Avatar

The essential comment is that as troublesome as Samuel Beckett may be with his making the audience do the work, this dedicated company of actors comes together as an ensemble to share his work with a passion. Ron Sossi's experienced hand brings it all together.

sweet - Michael Sheehan - ...read full review


Avatar

This KOAN Unit production tries to give each briefly flickering work its due. But signs of haste and the kinds of carelessness that used to drive the famously stringent Beckett mad undermine the effectiveness of some of the acting.

sweet-sour - Charles McNulty - ...read full review


Elaine L. Mura - LA Splash

For Beckett aficionados, BECKETT 5 will ring with truth. For those unaccustomed to Beckett's approach to theater, the production may leave them confused. Regardless of audience reaction to BECKETT 5, this collection remains highly theatrical and evocative.

sweet - Elaine L. Mura - ...read full review


Avatar

This is quality theater and funny to boot. It's a class company, soon to be undone by Actors Equity Association's bone-headed notion of how to destroy theater, instead of promoting it. See them while you can.

sweet - Dale Reynolds - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

While Beckett's plays may puzzle and outrage many theatergoers, I encourage you to open your mind to the many possibilities of what is being presented and enjoy discussing production elements with others afterwards as a way open your eyes to seeing things in different ways!

sweet - Shari Barrett - ...read full review


Avatar

The Koan Unit consists of talented actors, who, under Ron Sossi's tutelage, are acutely adept at handling some of the most difficult theatrical styles, and that ability is on display here.

sweet - Ernest Kearney - ...read full review


Avatar

If Beckett is your thing, this production makes for an engaging evening, and these short plays are a great way to experience a broad spectrum of Beckett's exploration of life, death, loneliness, alienation and futility, and always with some wonderful dark humor.

sweet-sour - Catherine Siggins - ...read full review


Avatar

While the production overall is somewhat uneven, the performances by Hogan and Weisser make Beckett 5 worth a look.

sweet-sour - Kelly Hartog - ...read full review


Avatar

Beckett would have been proud. See this before it goes away;

sweet - Sarah Spitz - ...read full review


Avatar

If I had no other plays, movies, operas, and dances to attend to in the next few weeks (as, somewhat regretfully, I do) I'd return without reservation.

sweet-sour - Douglas Messerli - ...read full review


Avatar

Directed by OTE's longtime artistic director, Ron Sossi, the bill includes four lesser-known works by Beckett (Act Without Words II, Come and Go, Catastrophe, Footfalls) and the now-famous Krapp's Last Tape The actors, Alan Abelew, Beth Hogan, Diana Cignoni, Sheelagh Cullen, and Norbert Weisser, deliver well-honed, expert performances that bring these cryptic, metaphysical plays to life in vivid fashion.

sweet - Will Manus - ...read full review


Paul Myrvold - Theatre Notes

The cast of five protean actors — Alan Abelew, Diana Cignoni, Sheelagh Cullen, Elizabeth Hogan and the aforementioned Mr. Weisser — is superb. The performances, under the astute direction of Ron Sossi, are wonderfully detailed and very affecting as well as hilarious when hilarity is called for. Bravo!

sweet - Paul Myrvold - ...read full review


Avatar

The idea of putting together these rarely produced Beckett plays is great for the sole purpose of bringing new audiences to these pieces. The evening feels less significant than it should. Minimalist doesn't have to mean minor, and Beckett is a major player in the world of dramatic literature, but unfortunately these pieces don't feel weighted enough to create a unique theatrical experience. As it is, this production serves as an exposure to important dramatic literature and not the exciting theater it should be.

sweet-sour - Patrick Hurley - ...read full review


Avatar

Director Sossi's production is polished and assured, and the actors perform impeccably. I wanted to like it, I really did. But I just couldn't manage it. Maybe Beckett is an acquired taste which I never acquired. Or maybe I'm just a Philistine.

sweet-sour - Neal Weaver - ...read full review


Avatar

...And knowing that the Odyssey's resident company of superb veteran actors, the KOAN Unit, under director Ron Sossi, is bringing the works to life, we are assured the production will be deep and sharp.

sweet - Dany Margolies - ...read full review


Cynthia Citron

Brought to life by five extraordinary actors, the scenes offer a range of emotions from wonder to apprehension, meditation to introspection, and every once in a while, but not too often, a small smile at Beckett's playfulness.

sweet - Cynthia Citron - ...read full review


Avatar

The essential comment is that as troublesome as Samuel Beckett may be with his making the audience do the work, this dedicated company of actors comes together as an ensemble to share his work with a passion. Ron Sossi's experienced hand brings it all together.

sweet - Michael Sheehan - ...read full review


Avatar

This KOAN Unit production tries to give each briefly flickering work its due. But signs of haste and the kinds of carelessness that used to drive the famously stringent Beckett mad undermine the effectiveness of some of the acting.

sweet-sour - Charles McNulty - ...read full review


Elaine L. Mura - LA Splash

For Beckett aficionados, BECKETT 5 will ring with truth. For those unaccustomed to Beckett's approach to theater, the production may leave them confused. Regardless of audience reaction to BECKETT 5, this collection remains highly theatrical and evocative.

sweet - Elaine L. Mura - ...read full review


Avatar

This is quality theater and funny to boot. It's a class company, soon to be undone by Actors Equity Association's bone-headed notion of how to destroy theater, instead of promoting it. See them while you can.

sweet - Dale Reynolds - ...read full review


Shari Barrett

While Beckett's plays may puzzle and outrage many theatergoers, I encourage you to open your mind to the many possibilities of what is being presented and enjoy discussing production elements with others afterwards as a way open your eyes to seeing things in different ways!

sweet - Shari Barrett - ...read full review