Enter the bleak spectacular of “Circus Beckett”

“The motion alone is not enough, I must hear the feet, however faint they fall.”

You enter a Parisian circus—sawdust on the floor, lights and ladders dangling above. Pozzo serves as ringleader (such a brilliant choice!). Lucky has been further debased to a dancing poodle act. Vladimir and Estragon reset the stage between scenes, never to get their own moment in the spotlight.

“Circus Beckett” features seven short plays, two poems, a comedic monologue from the novel Molloy and several excerpts from “Waiting for Godot.”

By resetting Beckett’s least accessible plays as circus acts, director Andrew Manley strips the dialogue of its last traces of individuality. All the actors dress identically, in red pajamas and nude skullcaps. In the opening parade, they split lines meant for a single character. Later, “Play” shuffles the actors like a game of Three Card Monte until you can’t keep their stories straight.

The performances are arresting, but never frightening. Manley wisely limits the circus acts to an engaging, amateur level. The tightrope walker crosses a beam. Acrobats swing on rope ladders. The magic tricks—which I dare not spoil—amuse rather than astound. They entertain just enough to hold your attention.

Unless you’re a diehard Beckett fan, some of these acts will be new. I was enchanted by the tragicomic “Act Without Words 1,” which works better onstage than on the page. “Footfalls” is another highlight, with the constant stomp of a stilt-walker adding to the dread.

As the circus comes to an end, the clowns find a glimmer of hope that only Beckett can provide.

Additional Notes:

We regret we can’t single out any actors by name. If you happen to know the actors involved, message us on Facebook about who performed which play.

Sit opposite the red curtain for the best view. The cast does a good job performing in the round, but certain acts can’t rotate.

While this should go without saying, please do not expose a child to “Circus Beckett.”

Colorado College Dept of Theatre and Dance
Norberg Studio, Cornerstone Arts Center
825 N Cascade Ave

Playing October 12–14, 2017
Admission: $5 general; CC students free
Running Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

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