[2009099] Rough for Theatre II

Rough for Theatre II

Go Begging / Urban Myth Theatre of Youth @ Holden Street Theatres (The Studio)

7:30pm, Sat 21 Mar 2009

Apart from a cursory knowledge of Waiting for Godot, I know nothing about Samuel Beckett’s work.

And, despite having sat through Rough for Theatre II, I’m none the wiser.

A post-performance scouring of Wikipedia’s entry for the play doesn’t really help, either; well, it does help, because it spells out all the finer points of the play that I completely missed. Which was most of it.

You know, were I a professional – or even just a wannabe – critic, I’d feel pretty bloody embarrassed now; unable to comprehend the piece as it was presented, I was scurrying off to The Interwebs to read someone else’s idea of what it was all about just so that I can eventually stroke my chin, cast a deeply patronising look over my face, and feign deeper knowledge in conversation. Luckily, that’s not me at all; luckily, I can write whatever the hell I like, safe in the knowledge that no-one will ever read it, and thus I’m not exposing my blinkered ignorance and rusty interpretative skills to anyone.


As the play starts, a man stands on a windowsill with his back to us, motionless – contemplating suicide, he remains there the entire show. Two bureaucrats enter, and sit at their identical desks on either side of the man, and start discussing the worth of the man’s life.

From there, it gets a bit existential.

My initial impressions were that Sarah Dunn’s direction was fantastic – leaving The Man (Croker / C) centre-stage the entire time, quietly ominous, then placing Bertrand (A) and Morven (B) almost in the wings, causing the audience to spend much of the first half of the play flitting their eyes left and right. I later discovered that Beckett explicitly demanded that set in his script, that the symmetry is important; regardless, the mood on the stage was delicious – unsettling and ponderous – with the lighting almost entirely provided by the desk lamps on the bureaucrats tables. Kym Begg was solid as Bertrand, but Guy O’Grady’s fire and brimstone was perfect for Morven. Jon Ho… well, he’s got a nice back. And he can stand still. Really still.

I left Holden Street with no understanding as to what the fuck was going on. But, given it was only thirty minutes long, I wasn’t left stumbling in the dark for too long… and a bit of supplemental reading has me convinced that I’d love to see this play again. No, I’d love to see this production again, because – whilst I was left confused – I loved the way this performance made me feel: highbrow and impotent.

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