Creased Productions’ Rough Theatre brings to the stage two of Beckett’s lesser known plays, Rough for Theatre I and II, in simple but effective style. Sounds of running water and birdsong, accompanied by the pitiful playing of an out-of-tune violin opened the scene of Rough for Theatre I on a dingy, nondescript space, littered with debris and rubbish occupied by two disabled creatures: one blind man (A), playing the violin and the other crippled (B), in a wheelchair. Both are garbed in dirty suits with a concentration of dust on their shoulders, as though their world had fallen down about their ears. This first play sees these two characters evaluating their need for each other in a seemingly post-apocalyptic or bleak otherworldly place and was well carried and executed by the two actors with economic yet powerful direction in the small stage place.
A (Joe Caplin) used excellent, animalistic characterisation as he rummaged blindly around the floor, dirty, twitchy and repulsive, eating the rubbish that he found. B (Charlie Mealings) on the other hand played a contrastingly well-spoken old man, efficaciously achieving some well-timed and well-delivered humour, tender and pleading moments and some of cruelty and pity for A. Beckett’s glorious but sometimes challenging dialogue was credibly delivered with variety and intelligence and the relationship between the two built believably. Other than some moments of unrealistic or slightly too farcical facial expressions or reactions, this piece was purely and admirably executed.
Rough for Theatre II involves two bureaucrats (A and B, played by Josh Graham and Sam Masters respectively) carrying out an investigation into the character (C) who stands with his back to the audience for the entire play looking out a window, apparently contemplating suicide. This Rough takes place in a blank space with two desks, two chairs, two lamps and a projection of a window, at which C stands. Initially, the acting in this play seemed less convincing and engaging than that which had come before but as the show progressed the performers seemed to warm up and their portrayals became more interesting and dynamic. There were, once again, some less than credible reactions coupled with some moments of brilliance in comic delivery and characterisation. Unlike the first play, this one dragged a little in places as energy seemed to be lulling at times.
Overall, this performance was a successful and faithful portrayal of two of Beckett’s lesser known works and it’s definitely worth the price of the ticket in order to see these rarely performed plays.