Tag Archives: Samuel Beckett

The Sun Shining On Her Hands: A timely feminist reinterpretation of Woyzeck’s Marie

trip-the-lightIn Georg Büchner’s fragmentary, expressionistic play Woyzeck, attention is traditionally focused on the eponymous protagonist.

However, The Sun Shining On Her Hands is a creative reimagining by Trip the Light Theatre, an exciting company influenced by physical theatre.

Crucially, they give the spotlight to the much more sidelined character of Marie, who has a child with Woyzeck but is nonetheless free-spirited, passionate and promiscuous. Marie is someone who pays the ultimate price for transgressing the boundaries of what society considers “decent”.

As such, The Sun Shining On Her Hands offers a very timely feminist interpretation of the character of Marie, while also being an experimental and engaging production in its own right. The combination of fragmentary songs and words – as well as forceful but sometimes gentle, flowing movements – contributes to the intentionally disorientating experience of watching the production.

This is no bad thing; in fact, the swirling confusion and lack of traditional, linear narrative positively recalls the work of Beckett. As the critic John Fuegi so eloquently put it:

The world Büchner depicts…in Woyzeck… is one stripped completely bare of traditional notions of heroism, morality, propriety and decorum.

Ultimately, the bleakness of both Woyzeck and The Sun Shining On Her Hands is most powerfully summarised in a line of Marie’s: “Everything goes to hell anyhow, man and woman alike.”

Read my full review on Litro

“Past claim of meaningful existence”: the defeated individual in three Beckett plays

beckettThe prominent literary critic Richard Ellman said of Beckett’s work: “He has given a voice to the decrepit and maimed and inarticulate, men and women at the end of their tether, past pose or pretense, past claim of meaningful existence…like salamanders we survive in his fire.”

More than 25 years after his death, Beckett’s plays remain notoriously difficult to decipher, often defying and subverting theatrical conventions. Award-winning theatre company Whispering Beasts have chosen to take up the intimidating gauntlet thrown down by Beckett. They are currently performing three of his short plays in succession, Act Without Words I, Rough for Theatre II and Catastrophe, at the Old Red Lion Theatre.

Despite being formed relatively recently, Whispering Beasts grapple with the complexities and starkness of Beckett’s vision exceptionally well, showing that his crushed protagonists are unmistakably “at the end of their tether” and “past claim of meaningful existence” in the face of harsh external forces beyond their control.

Read my full review of their performance on Litro