“Perspective…an inescapable truth.”
Samuel Beckett is most noted for his play Waiting for Godot, where his two main characters wait endlessly for a man who never comes. By the wishes of Beckett, his plays must be performed without changes to his tedious stage directions and under no circumstances can male characters ever be played by women. This set writer and lead actress Gab Cody and her counterpart Rita Reis on a mission: to find the “existential clowning piece” for women. In her own words Cody “set out to create a piece of highly physical theater that poses existential questions in the most ridiculous of situations.” In seeing the opening night of Quantum Theater’s “Fat Beckett” it seems that Cody and director Sam Turich have succeeded.
Cody takes Beckett’s story and turns it on its tail. Instead of two men waiting for the immortalized Godot to show up, Cody’s characters (Sophie and Kiki) are on a never ending venture to search for their lost goat (Biquette) who always seems to be a few steps ahead of the pair. Cody’s long one act uses absurdist tenets, inadequacy of language, repetitive plot structures, and an incomprehensible outside world, with elements of clowning and commedia dell’arte to add a comedic twist to one’s existential existence. It was in this fact that Cody’s play has excelled, for she has done her best to use what is known about this genre of theater to force the audience to determine their place in this world, and then examine how they are viewed by others.
Gab Cody and Rita Reis, both graduates from Point Park University’s MFA program, are a wonderful sight to see. They truly know their craft, evident from their comedic control and their true understanding of genre. Each creates an interesting and vibrant character that develops and learns throughout the show. The two actors are confident of her counterpart and helping to create a dynamic relationship between the characters that grow before you. Sam Turich, the show’s director, uses the space provided in an interesting fashion. As the play begins to repeat itself, the way many absurd shows do, the blocking is similar but never seems to be repetitive or boring. He creates beautiful visual images with just his two actors and one set piece. He takes a play that to some may be difficult to understand and strives to make it accessible by all who see it.
In true Quantum Theatre fashion “Fat Beckett” was staged in an abandoned school house in Lawrenceville. Playing across two classrooms and only using a mobile tree set piece helped add to the Beckett/Godot style. Barren concrete floors and walls with crackled paint required the audience to imagine the landscapes that Sophie and Kiki describe in their search for Biquette. Using paper lanterns as well as ambient lighting along the back wall of the farthest room, lighting designer Scott Nelson was able to create many moods with a few subtle changes aiding in the feeling of Cody’s play.
All in all if you are looking for a night out where you get to laugh but still leave the theater thinking, then “Fat Beckett” is a play for you. Striving to add a distinct feminine quality to what Cody describes as a male-dominated genre, this 75 minute show leaves a lasting impression about the feminine gender and their impact on the world that was once ruled by men. Overall a great night of theater, and unless it was just an opening night bonus, a free profiterole awaits you with your ticket purchase.
When can I see Fat Beckett in Pittsburgh?
Between December 1, 2011 – December 18, 2011
Shows are on Wed/Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun at 8:00pm
*No late seating, arrive 15 minutes prior
Where is it?
Old School House in Lawrenceville
4830 Hatfield Street (map)
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
How much is it?
Wednesday/Thursday/Sunday – $35
Friday – $40
Saturday – $45
*Student tickets are available for $18 with ID