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      The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett
    Play it again, Sam?

    "The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett..." doesn't quite pull off its sketch-comedy sendup of the Irish master's "found" short plays.


    The Neofuturists, a Chicago-based comedy sketch troupe, blasted onto the New York scene in 1996 with their downtown hit "Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind" a collection of one-minute plays performed as chosen by the audience. The show has been running in Chicago since 1988 and is a favorite among high schoolers. They have a reunion performance each year in New York.

    Full title: The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in an Envelope (Partially Burned) in a Dustbin in Paris Labeled "Never to be Performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I'll Sue! I'LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!".
    Company: Neo-Futurists.
    Written by: Ben Schneider and Danny Thompson.
    Cast: Unit Celebi, Ben Schneider, Danny Thompson.

    Related links: Official site
    Their most recent work, "The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in an Envelope (Partially Burned) in a Dustbin in Paris Labeled 'Never to be Performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I'll Sue! I'LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!'," now extended at the Present Company Theatorium on the Lower East Side, was a hit at this year's Fringe Festival. Supposedly inspired by Samuel Beckett, the sketches are framed by various letters and faxes from lawyers and the dead Beckett himself, demanding an immediate halt to performance with a threat of serious legal action or worse. Tragically, they pay no heed.

    Performed by Unit Celebi, Ben Schneider and Danny Thompson in a farcical over-the-top fashion that stears clear of any attempt at realism, the comedy was also written by Schneider and Thompson together with Neofuturist founder Greg Allen, who performed in its original run. The little playlets, bearing only a superficial relation to anything Beckett wrote, range from a monologue performed almost entirely in the dark to the clichéd caricature of Michael Flatly in his Irish stepping dance show "Lord of the Dance." If only Beckett knew he was responsible for that one.

    Also included in the seven "found" Beckett plays (one of which they lost, ha, ha, ha) are "Happy, Happy Bunny Visits Sad Sad Owl," a puppet show from the author at age seven, and "If," with a man dressed up as an old woman sitting in rocking chair, rocking to a song by "Bread" again, again, again and then again. The plentiful trash-can references, and surrealistic moments (a table with two legs, a talking brain) are not funny but sophomoric, overused, and the humor never goes beyond the play titles. More inspired by "Saturday Night Live" than Beckett, the sketches, like their television equivalent, don't know when to quit. Their attempt to take the piss out of Beckett is the theatrical equivalent of green beer on St. Patrick's Day. The Neofeoturists forget that no one can do this more brilliantly than Beckett himself.

    JANUARY 15, 2001

    Reader comments on The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett:

  • lost works of sam beckett   from ua, Jun 10, 2003

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