No Danger of the . . . Spiritual Thing | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

No Danger of the . . . Spiritual Thing 

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NO DANGER OF THE . . . SPIRITUAL THING, Curious Theatre Branch. Late in life Samuel Beckett fought to oversee the way his works were produced, aiming for a kind of purity. And Curious Theatre Branch plays this ensemble-directed collection of three one-acts more or less straight, wisely resisting personalization of any type.

"No Danger of the...Spiritual Thing" opens with the 1983 Rough for Theater II, in which two characters debate whether a third should commit suicide. One of Beckett's more easygoing pieces, it proves an excellent entry to the evening as Beau O'Reilly and Colm O'Reilly settle into the dialogue's lush rhythms. The 1967 Eh Joe is more abstract. Beckett devised the piece for television, and Curious holds true to his stage directions: Guy Massey silently reacts to a cruel voice emanating from a television set.

The 1964 Play, representing a harsh lovers' quarrel between a man and two women, features Massey, Jenny Magnus, and Kathleen Powers as three heads poking out of funerary urns. Perhaps the most representative of Beckett's style of the three scripts, it provides a context for Magnus's own lyrical efforts as a playwright. But the piece is problematic--the entire play is enacted twice--and the ensemble's take is designed to leave you squirming in your seat. Beckett wouldn't have settled for anything less.

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