...And Then You Go On
nytheatre.com review by Richard Hinojosa
March 25, 2011
Samuel Beckett changed the face of theater when he rose to the occasion of his times. Coming in at the tail end of a modernist movement that took theater and turned it on its head, Beckett was left with little wiggle room to create something new and unseen—but he managed to do just that. Whether you consider Becket the last modernist or the first postmodernist his mark on the theater and literature that came after him is unmistakable. So I see it as only too fitting that an intelligent and talented artist like Bob Jaffe has created ...And Then You Go On, a performed concise anthology in homage to Beckett’s indelible influence.
Jaffe pulls his text from over a dozen sources most of which are works of prose. He takes from Beckett’s three novels, Molly, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable and from a couple of his fantastic novellas, which are among my very favorites of all his work, namely The End and First Love. Jaffe also uses monologues from Waiting for Godot and Endgame. The material is pieced together in a manner that leads the audience through the vagabond world of a Beckett character lost in a society that cares little about him and his lot in life. In many ways I felt the piece speaks to a contemporary audience because of the vast canyon that has opened between the have and have-nots in this country of promises and opportunity. Still Beckett deliberately made his work ambiguous so it forces his audience to find their own meaning and I suppose the disparity between the wealthy and the poor is what I managed to lock onto but you will no doubt find your own meaning. That is, after all, the whole point of the vague, seemingly rambling text.
However it is Jaffe’s interpretation of it all that really brings it home. He rises to the demands that Beckett makes on an actor and those demands are rigorous. Jaffe takes Beckett’s words and makes then intimate and flowing. He takes what seem to be composite memories and makes a lucid dream out of them. He makes a point of creating the off-stage, never seen character into a force to be reckoned with. He even makes the stage a character. Jaffe knows and understands his Beckett and he makes it all seem so much more straightforward than you may actually think possible. Jaffe’s director Peter Wallace does a great job setting the ups and downs of the pace and making the transitions between texts seem like they were originally written that way. I was really impressed with Jaffe’s performance. He is top notch.
I think what impressed me the most about Jaffe’s ...And Then You Go On is that it manages to celebrate Beckett’s work without being diminutive. He doesn’t try to boil Beckett’s work down into something that can be easily swallowed. He’s not trying to decode it or make it mainstream. He is a Beckett fan, like me, and if you are too I would highly recommend checking this one out.