I once knew a cat in Dana Point called Murphy. Or rather, a woman who called her cat Murphy; never met the feline. It had to be a very funny cat because it was named for a funny novel by Samuel Beckett. Even more amusing is the author’s follow-up novel—or “anti-novel” as one Beckett scholar suggested—“Watt,” written during World War II. Rejected by one publisher as “wild and unintelligible,” this story of an itinerant character and his bizarre struggle to make sense of the world is in my opinion completely insane, and one of the funniest things ever written.
The Mark Taper Forum is mounting a new production of “Waiting for Godot” with Alan Mandell and Barry McGovern in Los Angeles next March, but you don’t have to wait that long for a Beckett fix.
Even before the holidays are upon us McGovern is performing selections from “Watt,” and co-starring in a production of “Endgame” under the auspices of Ireland’s acclaimed Gate Theatre. These must-see shows are being presented Nov. 17-20 by Cal Performances at UC Berkeley’s Zellerbach Playhouse, and it’s as good a reason to visit the Bay Area as I’ve found all year.
Beckett’s “Endgame” is the tragicomic tale of an elderly blind man named Hamm and his disabled servant Clov, co-existing in a mutually dependent and fractious relationship, with only Hamm’s legless parents for company. Think your dysfunctional family is fun? Try some Thanksgiving Hamm. If you saw the Gate Theatre production of “Godot” at UCLA, which also co-starred McGovern—and if you didn’t, you really missed out—you don’t need any more incentive than this pre-holiday treat to head north. Call 510-642-9988 for tix.
If you’re traveling east, both shows are being staged in Philadelphia Nov. 8-13 as part of the Gate’s four-city US tour; “Watt” is being reprised in New York City in January as part of the Under the Radar Festival.
Hot tip: The Monkey Wrench Collective has cancelled “Learn to Be Latina” due to casting trouble. Meanwhile, their acclaimed production of “Cockroach” is coming to LA’s Hudson Theatre in November. Their closing show in Fullerton, “Theatre Uncut,” opens Dec. 2.
More from Jordan:
Laurel & Hardy at UCLA, on DVD; Fellini’s Blu ‘Clowns,’ ‘Boccaccio’
Ragtime in OC, Ray Charles and Satchmo on DVD, Corwin online
Alec Guinness, Ken Russell films on DVD, Noël Coward in NoHo
Halloween shows at Hunger Artists & Gallery leave you in… suspense
Barclay screens National’s ‘Guvnors,’ Stages throws ‘Party’
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