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Back - Beckett, Brault: brilliant

Since I started writing these columns I have developed a healthy respect for writers who have to meet publication deadlines. Often when I get home from the theatre and begin to write my column, the words don't flow easily and as the time creeps up to midnight, I think how hard it will be to get up for work next day and decide to finish the following evening. Which is fine provided I am not seeing another play the following evening or am not badly jet-lagged.

The consensus among my traveler friends is that they experience much less jet lag when flying west than east. In London I was into a regular sleep cycle by the third night so on my return to Vancouver after a week in London and two weeks in France, I figured two days max and I would be back to normal. Quelle surprise! It was nearly a week before I actually slept through till 5:30 am, my usual waking time. Then my best writing time, weekends, after the usual household chores are done, were taken up by two writing conferences. Compound lack of time with jet-lag and suddenly I find that I am five plays behind. So this is a brief catch-up column to get me back on track.

Of the Beckett centenary celebration at UBC I only got to the Evening of Three plays. The program consisted of Rough for Theatre II, Catastrophe and Rockaby. I concluded that for me to appreciate what Beckett is trying to do in a given play I need to read it in advance, together with some commentaries. I was quite engrossed by Catastrophe. In Rockaby, which reminded me somewhat of another Beckett play, "Footfalls", an old woman sits in a rocking chair on a darkened stage while her recorded voice plays over and over. She starts the rocking by saying "more". Each time the rocking slows, she says "more" and the sequence repeats. Unfortunately I was completely distracted by the fact that she sounded exactly like my 18 month old grand-daughter on a swing or paging through a book. One of the first words CJ learned to say was "more". At least Beckett only repeated the sequences 4 times, I think. CJ is usually more persistent than that. She can "read" the same book up to 12 times in a row.

I really liked both "Portrait of an Unidentified Man" at the Cultch and "The Unexpected Man" at Jericho Arts Centre. Pierre Brault was compelling as art forger, Elmyr de Hory who created works in the styles of Modigliani, Picasso and Matisse that were "more authentic" than their own paintings. The lighting in this play was spectacular, creating art work on the playing square.

Christine Willes and William Taylor were both charming in Yasmina Reza's "The Unexpected Man". Reza's plays have interesting premises. I really enjoyed "Art". However, watching this warm, sophisticated, smart  Woman on this long train ride, agonizing about whether to talk to the writer whose work she loves - well, in similar circumstances I think it would have taken me all of two minutes to decide to say hullo so I wanted to shake them both. Except the play would have been awfully short. Overall very satisfying theatre.

"Take me Out" at the Waterfront and "The Skin of our Teeth" at the Freddy Wood rounded out my two weeks of theatre.