Onstage, For the Very First Time

Samuel Beckett, the existentialist playwright whose plays like Endgame and Waiting for Godot virtually defined serious high-modernist drama, is not usually discussed in the context of Bread's schlocky 1970's pop ballad "If." One could even caution the excellent Neo-Futurists, in their desire to draw a connection between the two, not to go there. But go there, with glee, they do. Multiple times. While alluding to Beckett's eight-minute play Rockaby in their new comedic work, The Complete Lost Works of Samuel Beckett as Found in an Envelope (Partially Burned) in a Dustbin in Paris Labeled: "Never to Be Performed. Never. Ever. EVER! Or I'll Sue! I'LL SUE FROM THE GRAVE!!!, the Neo-Futurists play that cheesy love song repeatedly. And after each time, the old woman from Rockaby (actually one of the Neo-Futurists in drag) pleads for more. The gag is funny even if you haven't read Beckett. And if you have, it gives a new twist to an old classic. It's not that the old woman is sad about the wasted years she wants back, and howls about her deep need for more life. It's that she needs to continually hear the sappy song just one more time.

The premise of the piece, if you haven't guessed already, is that Beckett has written other works that have never been seen onstage before. These include works that cagily and hilariously engage in questions about existence (such as what happens when your life's work—in this case, keeping a table from falling over—turns out to be worthless).

Other pieces parody Beckett's plays, and still others end up lost again before production. Throughout this series of short works, the Neo-Futurists work in a subplot where a presence, strikingly similar to Beckett himself, makes himself known through increasingly threatening letters stating that he does not want the works presented.

As usual, this group of off-kilter grad school rejects delight in their sometimes obscure but always gratifying antics.

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