Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Play and Film

Publications | Reviews


Robert Brustein, in a review of the New York production in the New Republic (1 February 1964), comments on the brevity of Beckett’s Play—“it is more like spasm” than an act—that is nevertheless handled with great deftness. Noting Beckett’s reliance on a familiar stage image, Brustein senses “something of a new departure” in the stagecraft. The trio’s recitation “in abrupt and discontinuous phrases” of “a litany of adultery” is directed by a “diabolical” beam of light that “sets the rhythm and the tone of their damnation—regular and irregular, swift and lazy, stern and humorous.”

Raymond Federman, reviewing “Film” in Film Quarterly (Winter 1966-7, 46-51), states that it is Beckett’s “attempt to expose one of the cinema’s most flagrant failings today: the exploitation of sound, action, plot, and message to the detriment of the visual image” by “returning to the essence of the medium . . . the moving image itself and its silent origin.” Countering Beckett’s reputation as a “complex writer,” Federman asserts that “Film” is nothing more than an extension of the basic foundation of all Beckett’s writing: “the exploitation of the commonplace, the banal, the cliché . . . the obvious, or in Beckett’s own terms: ‘The nothing new.’”