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The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett As Found In An Envelope (Partially Burned) In A Dustbin In Paris Labelled "Never to be Performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I'll Sue! I'LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!"

Greg Allen, Ben Schneider and Danny Thompson
Riverside Studios
(2003)

Many English Literature students must feel a desire to lampoon Samuel Beckett. It is likely that there are thousands of pastiches of Beckett plays hidden in drawers. These will be long forgotten by upright members of society that have left their student days way behind them. Maybe some of them have made a mistake!

This very funny 70 minute Edinburgh Fringe transfer takes some of Beckett's least penetrable work and turns it into an interesting, affectionate look at the master's oeuvre.

There are seven separate pieces and the signs of Beckett are everywhere. In the first, there is a disembodied brain, blue lit with a seemingly brainless man whose bladder is too weak for a ten minute stage performance. Later on, there are repetitive tapes, dustbins, somebody with a flowerpot on their head and a man looking uncannily like Billie Whitelaw.

The highlight is a particularly futile piece based around the song If with the Billie Whitelaw lookalike veering between the catatonic and the practically dead. Futility is very much the theme of the evening as several of the pieces contemplate nothingness. We even get a piece of Beckett's juvenilia complete with pink bunny rabbit and brown owl.

The cod-Beckett is interspersed with messages from "beyond the grave" sent by the great man himself. He is clearly unhappy that these Americans should be taking his name in vain and using his work, albeit unknown pieces. Further, it seems highly likely that he would not be too impressed by what the Americans regard as an Irish accent.

Performed by two of its creators, Ben Schneider and Danny Thompson together with Bill Coelius and tightly directed by John Clancy, this little play will appeal to all but the stuffiest fans of Beckett. It also has enough general appeal to be enjoyable for those who have never heard of the playwright but enjoy rather off the wall, often philosophical humour.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher