Immersed in "Stranger Things", then hang out at Beckett

No amusement genius has yet made a Samuel Beckett pinball machine – I imagine a dark paddle, faulty flippers and a high score list that r...


No amusement genius has yet made a Samuel Beckett pinball machine – I imagine a dark paddle, faulty flippers and a high score list that reads GODOT GODOT GODOT. But those who want an extension of the Beckett brand can come to New York University instead. Skirball center for “Cascando”, an adaptation of a Beckett radio play from the early 1960s. It comes courtesy of Pan Pan Theateran Irish company with a carefree approach to the classics.

Originally created in collaboration with composer Marcel Mihalovici, “Cascando” is intended as a passive audio experience. But this “Cascando,” directed by Gavin Quinn and designed by Aedin Cosgrove, adds a participatory element.

Upon arrival, each ticket holder is equipped with a black hooded robe and a pair of headphones. Dropped onto La Guardia Place, a quiet street adjacent to Washington Square Park in Manhattan, participants begin a march in single file around and through nearby blocks. As they stroll, they listen to the text, pre-recorded here by Andrew Bennett and Daniel Reardon.

Walking around the Village dressed as a fashionable druid, a gothic garden gnome, is fun in its own way. But there are no stops along the way, no interactions, no activations. The choreography – a tight turn here and there – is minimal. At one point, I wondered, with almost breathless excitement, if we were going to sit down. We didn’t sit down.

While it makes sense to encounter Beckett’s text via headphones – there are references throughout a story that only exist in someone’s head – walking alone together doesn’t illuminate or does not galvanize the text, which is, like so many of Beckett’s works, heavy on repetition and ellipsis. On the rainy sidewalk, which means slipped.

In another city, at another time, a show like “Cascando” might at least have livened up street life. But typical New York street life is already a variety of drama, druids or not. As we walked back into the park, I saw a group of skateboarders looking us up and down. We had become part of their story, I thought for a moment, part of their experience. Then they shrugged and resumed their conversation. Just another Wednesday at the Village, mate.

Stranger Things: The Experiment
Through August 21 at Duggal Greenhouse, Brooklyn; strangerthings-experience.com. Duration: 45 minutes for the show, then mixing.

Cascade
Through July 3 at NYU Skirball, Manhattan; nyuskirball.org. Duration: 30 minutes.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Immersed in "Stranger Things", then hang out at Beckett
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