BECKETT & BRECHT, THAT TIME, five short plays by Samuel Beckett, directed by Jennifer Tarver, with Barbara Gordon, Paul Fauteux and David Jansen. BéBé , created by Keira Loughran, Ruth Madoc-Jones, Camille Stubel, Severn Thompson and Jennifer Capraru, directed by Capraru, with Stubel, Madoc-Jones, Sarah Mennell and Stephanie Morgenstern. Presented by the Theatre Centre, Theatre Extasis and Theatre Asylum at the Theatre Centre (1087 Queen West). Runs to December 19, Thursday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2 pm (BéBé also Dec 16 at 2 pm and Dec 19 at 7 pm). Double bill $30, some single tickets $25, Sunday mat pwyc, Thursday matinee $15. 416-538-0988. Rating: That Time NNNN ; Bébé NNN Rating: NNN
At more than three hours, Beckett & Brecht, the intriguing double bill on at the newly reopened Theatre Centre, is an exhausting night at the theatre. But it's certainly a deal. For a small price, you can see two separate full-length shows - That Time and BéBé - each with a different director and cast. Just make sure you're caffeinated.
Why the two are paired isn't quite clear. To save theatre rental fees? Samuel Beckett and Bertolt Brecht were leading 20th-century playwrights, but their works are stylistically and thematically different. So the alliteratively titled program's raison d'être seems uncertain.
The superior That Time consists of five short plays by Beckett, including two mimes. It's all confidently directed by the talented Jennifer Tarver , who ensures themes and even visual motifs echo throughout.
We're in a bleak landscape where people are stuck either in the past (like Barbara Gordon 's disembodied and anxious spotlit Mouth, ranting and worrying in the opening piece, Not I) or going through the motions of life, like the two clowns (the nimble and expressive Paul Fauteux and David Jansen ) in one of the charming mimes.
Fauteux also impresses in the other mime as a man doomed to a Tantalus-like existence, while Jansen is menacing as the Russian-accented director in the program's final, ambiguous piece, Catastrophe.
The production sizzles, especially E. C. Woodley 's sound design and Michelle Ramsay 's lighting.
BéBé, conceived and directed by Jennifer Capraru , written in collaboration with too many women to mention here, ostensibly looks at the various women involved with Brecht, from his wife to his collaborators/lovers.
Episodic yet attempting to be comprehensive, the work feels like some earnest thing dreamt up at a feminist summer camp.
It lacks focus, and the device of having Brecht played by various female actors doesn't pay off. Also, despite many Brechtian devices like placards and signs telling us who's who, only Ruth Madoc-Jones 's Ruth Berlau - a Danish journalist - comes across with any individuality.