4/29/2013 11:21 AM
This particular short play of Samuel Beckett’s stands out as being one with most similarities to arguably his most famous work, Waiting for Godot. With a vaguely post-apocalyptic setting and a pair of poor men with no truly tangible knowledge about their setting, Rough for Theatre I explores the limits of human desperation and how the longing for human connection can be consuming. Beckett creates a world with high stakes, deep imagery, and missed human connections that provide insight into what humans need most.
The characters, A and B, each have ailments that require them to be dependent on others: A is blind, while B is missing a leg and is stuck in a wheelchair. In another world with different circumstances A and B would unite forces and learn to help each other. Although Beckett at some moments does offer this as a possibility, but it seems like this play is actually about human connection that fails. Whether this is because of the urgency of survival, the mysteries of the world, or something in the characters’ pasts is unknown. It is clear in the world of this play, as in many others of his works, that what is left unwritten and undefined is just as crucial to determining the smell, sound, aesthetics, and tone as what is actually written. That is the challenge of producing Beckett’s works, to adequately portray his text by making decisions about what is left out that does not overwhelm or skew the text.
Rough for Theatre I depicts complex characters looking for companionship amidst the mysterious “ruins” of their environment. Beckett’s work is so intriguing and simultaneously bewildering since it articulates such deeply human themes with elusive dialogue and undefined mysteries. This play is an expert example of this enticing dichotomy.