Samuel Beckett is often considered one of the greatest playwrights of the twentieth century, with plays that are surreal, frightening, funny and beautiful in equal measure. They were shocking and revolutionary in their time and are still daunting for many practitioners today.

In this one hour production, Angel Theatre Company, under the direction of John Paterson, present three of Beckett’s lesser known short plays. In Not I, a red-lipped mouth is illuminated on stage, the rest of actress Samantha Kamras’ face and body hidden behind a black wall. It’s visually striking and Kamras delivers the quick-paced script with confidence.

This is followed by Catastrophe, one of Beckett’s most overtly political plays. In meta-theatrical style, a sadistic director and his female assistant manipulate their artistic presentation, which consists of a man’s broken body poised eerily still in its manipulated positions. It’s a concise and unsettling exploration of authority and dehumanization that worked well in the intimate theatre space. However, the performances were a bit over-stylized, and leant too far into performances of villainy.

The trilogy then ends with Rockaby, where an old woman (Anna Bonnett) rocks like clockwork in her chair, as a recorded voice delivers a slow narration of events from her life and that of her mother’s. Its repetitiveness becomes mesmeric, and over time deeply moving, as this person clings on to life and memory.

Whilst these are not particularly original depictions of Beckett’s plays, and a little rough around the edges, they are confident and eloquent pieces, making a compelling introduction to the writer’s smaller pieces.

Reviewer: Tom Titherington

Reviewed: 27th February 2020

North West End UK Rating: ★★★