A Thoroughly Absurd Evening
With a title such as ‘A Thoroughly Absurd Evening’ one did not know what to expect whilst waiting for the curtain to rise. The audience, seized with anticipation and by the promise of something a little out of the ordinary, was definitely not to be disappointed. The play opened with an informative speech explaining what inspired the famous ‘anti-playwright’ Samuel Beckett and allowed the audience a vital insight into the comical workings and intricacies of the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’; where the human condition is well and truly scrutinized. This was shortly followed by a simply bizarre extract from the play ‘Waiting for Godot’ which was both performed and directed excellently by the A Level Theatre Studies students. This gave the audience their first taste of this strange, yet intensely intriguing and unique form of theatre. In fact, in 1956, following a performance of ‘Godot’, a theatre critic famously wrote:
"He has achieved a theatrical impossibility - a play in which nothing happens but which keeps audience glued to their seats. What's more, since the second act is a subtly different reprise of the first, he has written a play in which nothing happens, twice".
This is illustrated beautifully by the performance of the extracts from Beckett’s play, when the audience members are presented with two extremely similar scenes yet find themselves unable to detach their gaze and are grasped by expectation.
After learning briefly about the life and the inspirations of the French playwright Eugene Ionesco, the stage was handed over to the A level French students, who undertook several extracts from Ionesco’s ‘La Cantatrice Chauve’ (The Bald Prima Donna). The audience found these comic scenes very amusing indeed. The scenes varied from one character frantically chasing another through the audience to a heated argument over a seemingly mundane and trivial fact: whether or not there was someone at the door. The cast spoke fluently and convincingly and in a manner very typical of the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’- a manner of utter nonsense. Although the French could not be said to be in any way basic, the evening was made accessible to all thanks to the concise commentaries by Dr Quirighetti, and the availability of a translation in the programme.
It would be untrue to say that the evening was anything less than wonderful, highly entertaining and very varied: after all, where else would you be able to see the famous “argument clinic” sketch from ‘Monty Python’, incorporated into an evening focused on two of the most influential and celebrated playwrights, Ionesco and Beckett, other than in ‘A Thoroughly Absurd Evening’?
Victoria Rasbridge, SFC1C
Article Created 01/12/2010