The London Theatre is a very small place in a basement in New Cross, which is beyond the concept of off-West End. If you know the area, it’s so the middle of nowhere that it would make a perfect setting for a western film. Despite the limitations of the area in which it is found, the theatre itself was turned into a very interesting space by the set designer, and the use of the sounds allowed the cast of two to put on a play more complicated than two characters would normally allow.
Chasing Beckett doesn’t look like anything close to a play. It is a proper visual philosophical essay on art, life, and the role of the critic. You are the spectator of a real-life exchange that could have been a modern version of the Symposium by Plato, only with fewer guests. The masterful interpretations gave power to the black comedic lines that sound nowhere far from reality, especially since the play takes part in a country that is known for the irony of its inhabitants. The equilibrium between the realism and the noire elements is delicately kept. I feel like this play is more the exception that confirms the rule about new writing trying to catch attention the wrong way, and end up looking more like the result of an amateurish desire to do something you are passionate about. In the end, the classics have academics and public success to give them the status and right to be produced. However, as Chasing Beckett shows us, while the plot develops, that it’s not as black and white as it seems. It touches themes that are relevant to the industry in such an enjoyable way. That is what I like about theatre. You can make people think without having to do it openly. All you pay to see is a noire, as if you gave your money to the BFI to go to see a Hitchcock film you own on DVD for the umpteenth time. It doesn’t feel like the small conferences of the London Society of Aesthetics on a Wednesday afternoon, but it makes you think just as much. For me, it was very personal: it made me think about my journey so far. When I was in high school I had a teacher which was mean to me to my face to then praise me behind my back to my mother. As many of my professors, they had the idea I didn’t put enough effort in the things I did and tried to make me do better by lowering my marks on purpose. It had the contrary effect, of course, but once we arrived to the module about critical pieces she had to give me a proper mark for my assignment. She thought I had put some effort in it, when I hadn’t put any at all. It just came more naturally for me to write about that than the other things I had to write for her.
You don’t need to be a critic or a writer to appreciate this play as it’s a fine example of proper acting and proper producing, and the script is well timed in itself and well written. I hope very much theatres off London will pick it up and produce it.