Required to like it! Peter Brook, Samuel Beckett “Fragments”

Directed by: Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne
Wednesday November 23, 2011

Besides Peter and Samuel you have the three actors, Jos Houben who is a teacher at Ecole Jacque Lecoq since 2000, Marcello Magni from the city where Arlecchino is from Bergamo, Kathryn Hunter has a long line credits including playing Mrs. Figg in a Harry Potter movie and the co-director Marie-Helene Estienne who has been an assistant and collaborator of Peter Brook. How could you possibly go wrong with this combination of talent? At $75 a ticket, you cannot go wrong. One is required to like it! It is Art! About 80% of the audience gave them a standing ovation. Point of information my dear friend Jim Moore famous photographer who makes everyone look great and funny gave me an extra ticket he had.

In the run of a show, doing eight shows a week one of the worst show to see is the Wednesday matinee. The actors sometimes are saving their energy for the nighttime show. These five short pieces by Samuel Beckett are profound and delicate pieces of theater to make come alive and this afternoon it feel short.

Rough for Theater I
Jos Houben and Marcello Magni
Maybe it was how it was directed. At the opening it looked like they were just going through the motions. Jos Houben did come alive about a half way into the piece. Especially with Beckett, you cannot walk through it and the whole cast needs to be in it. I was looking forwards to the next piece.

Kathryn Hunter
Kathryn’s voice is wonderfully powerful to listen to. But I found this powerful odd piece of theater lacking, missing an element of soul. You can clearly hear the soul but I did not see it. At one point she rocks a chair back and forth. That was my favorite section of the piece, echoing time and the only change in the rhythm of the piece.

Act Without Words II
Jos Houben and Marcello Magni
This is a wonderful piece of theater and so simple and profound. Marcello’s character you are not supposed to love and I did not. But again felt it had that Tuesday Matinee quality to the performance. Jos’s character you are to love and everyone did. Plus when he exited his bag it was a breath of fresh air. It was fun, alive.

Neither was the next short piece performed by Kathryn Hunter.

Come and Go

Jos Houben, Kathryn Hunter and Marcello Magni
This piece they all seemed to enjoy playing among each other and was the best part of the afternoon. They’re three old ladies talking about and with each other on a bench. Each of the ladies have their own little quirks and gossiping with each other and behind the others back.

This was not a great afternoon of theater, even though it was Peter Brook, Marie-Helene Estienne and Samuel Beckett. For Beckett to really fly all three actors need to be totally there. Jos Houben did shine in this production as well as Kathryn Hunters voice at moments. Of course the evening shows could very well be totally of a different quality, as every performer has an off night once in a while. Jos will be returning sometime to NYC in 2012 with his solo show, The Art of Laughter which I have not seen but do recommend based on Jim Moore’s recommendation and based on his performance in Fragments.

One other interesting point, I saw “Handshake Uppercut, a Victorian Clown Throwdown” created by Jay Dunn & John Leo; one could say it has a Samuel Beckett feel to it and is on the road to going beyond Beckett. Seeing Fragments and Handshake Uppercut, a Victorian Clown Throwdown shows a few days apart, they both have elements of a similar feel to them. Except every moment was totally alive in Handshake Uppercut. If you only had time and money to see one show, I would choose Handshake Uppercut despite the power names in this production of Fragments.

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