New life breathed into brilliance of Beckett

PUBLISHED: 18:26 03 September 2008 | UPDATED: 17:19 16 August 2010

FRAGMENTS at the Young Vic manages to breathe life and humour into Beckett s plays, writes Marina Soteriou. World-famous director

FRAGMENTS at the Young Vic manages to breathe life and humour into Beckett's plays, writes Marina Soteriou.

World-famous director Peter Brook did not seem to disappoint the audience for even a minute with his production.

The show included five short pieces by the Nobel Prize winner Rough for Theatre I, Rockaby, Act Without Words II, Neither and Come and Go.

The theme that connected the five was humour, both slapstick and very, very dark.

The plays told the story of a one-legged tramp who attempts to join in partnership with a blind vagrant, a frail woman in black with a rocking chair, two men who sleep in plastic bags, one hopelessly cheerful and one hopelessly miserable, and finally three old women who meet on a bench to relive the old days and gossip.

The three actors performing all of the characters - Kathryn Hunter, Marcello Magni and Khalifa Natour - twinkled and shined with sheer talent. Maybe this was down to the pairing of Brook and Beckett, who both famously love actors to the point where they don't want the set to upstage them. Here this works a treat.

The actors simply perform and this is enough. More than enough.

Hunter's huge talent and flair for her characters completely endears her to her audience.

The strongest and most moving piece of the evening is her solo piece in Rockaby.

Although directed differently from previous productions, it still manages to take your breath away.

The woman countlessly recounts the day of a sad lonely woman, in a sad lonely street.

Each repetition revealing more details.

But we don't know if this is the narrator's life, her aforementioned mother's or simply a stranger's she read about in a paper.

It is testament to Hunter's talents that this rhythmic and mystifying scene becomes something warm and moving.

This sharply contrasts with the pure slapstick humour of Act Without Words II, in which funnily enough, the actors rely on their physical acting solely to entertain.

Each morning, as they lay curled up asleep in their plastic bags, a metal pointed pole falls on them to awaken them to their daily routine.

One a miserable pill-popping, moper and the other an efficient punctual happy-go-lucky man.

But both seem to have equally unproductive days. Despite the prevailing consensus, prior knowledge of the master's texts are not needed to fully appreciate the nuances and textures of these performances.

The production runs until October 6 at the Young Vic, The Cut, Waterloo.

Tickets are £22.50, or £10 for those under 26 and there are half-price mid-week matinees.

The box office number is 020

7922 2922.

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