Review on Samuel Beckett: Cascando
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The Review on Samuel Beckett: Cascando
There’s nothing like a walk to get the synapses buzzing, especially with Samuel Beckett for company. This particular walk was choreographed by Pan Pan Theater as a slow-burning boardwalk production of Beckett’s 1963 radio play Cascando, meandering through the elevated walkways of the Barbican while the audience listens through headphones. For a few precious moments, it makes the ordinary feel special.
The spinning, tumbling script is divided into three roles: Opener, Voice, and Music. Opener (Daniel Reardon) is the conductor of this symphony as he blares truncated commands: Open! Close to! Voice (Andrew Bennett) is an author struggling to tell one last story that will make him stop writing for good, maybe life. Jimmy Eadie’s music is mostly made up of eerie, screeching and tense electronic strings, but with small flashes of delicate and hopeful woodwinds.
The story comes in fits and starts and centers on a lonely man, Woburn, who stumbles out to sea. The emotional emphasis in Bennett’s lilting recitation is quite something. When Bennett says the word ‘Woburn’ it sounds like a caress and when he describes falling into the sand and mud there is more affection than pity.
Gradually, in director Gavin Quinn’s compassionate production, precision-crafted by Aedín Cosgrove, the idea emerges that being seen is enough. The audience, dressed in black hooded cloaks, follows a silent performer who strides forward, always just out of reach. As we circle the Barbican, we find ourselves looking back at each other: anonymous but observed.
There is one perfectly timed segment when Woburn reaches the sea and the audience walks across a platform suspended over water. It’s an Alice in Wonderland moment, when fiction begins to manifest itself in the most mysterious of ways.
People who are completely disconnected from the show start to take on strange traits. An old woman advancing cautiously with her shopping cart, a merry man dressed in black from head to toe – they sparkle with personality and possibility, the beginnings of yet unspoken stories.
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