Buckets O' Beckett | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Buckets O' Beckett 

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BUCKETS O' BECKETT, Irish Repertory of Chicago, at Victory Gardens Theater. For four years, beginning in 1992, Splinter Group produced a festival of Samuel Beckett's shorter, less familiar plays. "Buckets o' Beckett" eventually became popular enough that in 1996 the company produced a marathon of Beckett's work--18 of his 19 plays crushed into an all-too-brief four weeks. We've gone without the "Buckets" fest while Splinter Group regrouped and renamed itself the Irish Repertory of Chicago, but fortunately Beckett was Irish--though the son of an Orangeman who lived much of his life in Paris--so "Buckets o' Beckett" is back.

This year's festival features two rarely produced pieces--Quad and Act Without Words 2--plus two short works done more often, Play and Krapp's Last Tape. The productions range from passable to excellent. I've seen sharper versions of Play--three characters in large urns talk in turn--most recently in the window of a futon store during the Around the Coyote festival last fall. But this Krapp, starring William J. Norris, ranks among the best I've seen. For years Scrooge in Goodman's A Christmas Carol, Norris plays Krapp with a Scroogelike crusty crabbiness that heightens both the comedy and the disarming sadness of Beckett's haunting meditation on death, decay, and delusion. Moreover, Norris is a fine physical comedian, and early in the piece Beckett gives Krapp several pratfalls worthy of Buster Keaton. --Jack Helbig

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