Review: ON BECKETT at Guthrie Theatre

Running now thru March 24, 2024

By: Feb. 24, 2024
Review: ON BECKETT at Guthrie Theatre
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Review: ON BECKETT at Guthrie Theatre

Samuel Beckett. This one name tends to illicit a strong reaction for individuals who are familiar with this famed playwright’s work. Whether you are a fan of his work or not, the newest production being presented at the Guthrie Theatre is for you. Originally conceived at the Irish Repertory Theatre, famed actor and clown, Bill Irwin, has crafted a rare piece of theatre that is sure to not only delight but educate. This is On Beckett.

Staged as a sort of lecture, Irwin guides his audience through various works of Samuel Beckett while performing select pieces but then breaking out of his characters to share his insight and observations of the work.

For those who are unfamiliar with more than one or two pieces of Samuel Beckett, this is the show for them. Bill Irwin’s text selections are all so different and varied that the audience never knows where they are headed next in this genius’ body of work but they are certainly radiating with anticipation.

This is where it needs to be said, Bill Irwin is a genius. A simply singular talent and one of the greatest actors of our time. It cannot be overstated and though that may seem like a Review: ON BECKETT at Guthrie Theatre large claim, it is 100% true. Irwin not only acts the texts that he performs but he lives in them. Each character that he embodied was so fresh and new from the previous that it felt as if there were eight actors on stage and not just one.

The brilliant lighting design by Michael Gottlieb only added to the experience. Choosing a variety of ways to light Mr. Irwin to provide the audience a semblance of location but also how the audience is supposed to view the characters that are being portrayed. The viewer is treated to a series of lighting effects that radiate emotion and create a space for the audience to feel like they are being transported to another time and place, even with the simplest spotlight.

Drawing on his experience as a clown, Bill Irwin brings the comedy and sometimes sadness of that world to Samuel Beckett’s work. It is a wonder to witness the emotions that Irwin can express with just his body, heightening the feelings that he can make the audience feel with just a look, a walk, or a tip of his hat.

Review: ON BECKETT at Guthrie Theatre On Beckett is a must see for anyone who thinks they have a solid grasp on Beckett’s work and especially for those who think they have their minds made up. It is not only extremely entertaining but it provides an incredible education that most have sadly been deprived of. The artistry, magic, and talent of Bill Irwin is worth every penny and it would be a travesty to miss.