It’s intriguing to encounter plays by Samuel Beckett and Omahan Aaron Zavitz on consecutive days, something you can experience by visiting Brigit St. Brigit’s new space downtown at 10th & Dodge and the Shelterbelt Theatre at 3225 California.
Yes, Beckett’s more established than Zavitz, but the former’s Krapp’s Last Tape has strong appeal in common with the latter’s premiering Intelligentsia. They provoke complex thought, and are not recommended if you’d rather not weigh ideas.
They also provide opportunity for powerful performances, which Thomas Becker delivers for director Cathy M.W. Kurz. Thanks to Becker’s talent and the fact that he’s blessed with the face of a mature Hollywood leading man, it only takes fascinating lighting by Darren Golden to make this one-man show engrossing.
You’ll get more out it if you read something to prepare you for what Kurz summarizes this way: A writer ready for his birthday ritual of tape recording his annual retrospect “decides instead to excavate the birthday tape from 30 years ago to keep company with himself when he was 39, ‘at the crest of the wave’.”
The Beckett one-act is paired with The Tinker’s Wedding by J.M. Synge, a rollicking roadside tale of three tinkers and a tippling priest.
It’s a lively contrast to Krapp’s contemplation with Stephanie McMahon a doe-eyed bride-to-be, Gunner Hansen Berg a reluctant groom and Charleen J.B. Willoughby his bombastic mother always in pursuit of a pint. Eventually they gang up on the hard-bargaining priest played by Jeremy Earl.
Brigit’s temporary digs proved comfortable and appealing, and, most surprising, offered an open parking space only a few feet away. The Irish pairing continues through May 6. Call 402.502.4910.
As for the Zavitz play at the Shelterbelt director Eric Salonis expected to draw a strong performance from veteran John Hatcher, and he did, but I was wowed by Lisa Kalantjakos. Once a dancer, now mesmerized by reality television shows, she eyes the screen as her hand reaches blindly for a glass that’s out of reach.
Hatcher’s academic takes the Socratic advice to lead an examined life so far that analysis replaces living. It causes a break with their daughter and at one point has the wife (Lisa) charging at him, crashing to the floor and rising to accuse him with, “You…intellect.”
Zavitz arguably over-indulges in literary allusions. It was the second play in a week that borrowed Arthur Miller’s “Attention must be paid” from The Death of a Salesman and it owed debts to Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. But the impact of its unusual two-act structure brings honor to the promising Omaha playwright.
Cold Cream looks at theater in the metro area. Email information to email@example.com.