Five years earlier, another high profile gent took a stab at the notoriously avant-garde playwright, and while the Internet took note, the same New Yorkers who were destined to go ga ga for the adorable bowler hatted Brits barely batted a collective eye.
Why was that?
Perhaps it’s because the earlier project had a decidedly more downtown feel than the Broadway production starring McKellan and Stewart. It was so experimental that its main player, journalist and talk show host Charlie Rose, a fixture of the New York social scene, didn’t even know he was performing in it.
He didn’t have to. The whole thing was engineered by filmmaker Andrew Filippone Jr., in the spirit of Beckett.
By cutting together old footage using crowd-pleasing Parent Trap special effects, he made it possible for Charlie to have an absurdist conversation with himself. It takes about 45 seconds to settle in to the proper sensibility—the topic is a bit 21st-century and the familiar Charlie Rose credits could’ve used a tweak—but once it gets going, it’s a ton of bizarre and disturbing fun.
Beckett was never one to shy from parenthetical instructions, a practice most playwrights are taught to avoid on the theory that the actors should be allowed to discover their characters. Director Filippone serves his muse well here, editing in a host of nonverbal reactions so specific, they seem to be the direct embodiment of something written in the (non-existent) script.
Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday.