Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay


On Beckett
with Bill Irwin
American Conservatory Theater

Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Richard's reviews of Belleville, The Speakeasy, Avenue Q and Shen Yun Performing Arts and Patrick's review of Red Hot Mama: The Sophie Tucker Story


Bill Irwin
Photo by Kevin Berne
Gifted actor Bill Irwin is currently holding forth at ACT's Stand Theater in his solo show about Samuel Beckett. It a fascinating lecture on Beckett followed by 15 minutes of questions and answers from the audience.

It was a pleasure to both listen to and watch this Tony-winning actor and veteran clown performer. I have always been an admirer of Bill Irwin and have seen him in many shows, including Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf and Waiting for Godot, and recently as Cap'n Andy in Show Boat at the San Francisco Opera House. This artist is somewhere between Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton with a little of Steve Martin thrown in for good measure.

Irwin enters the stage unannounced and says, "I'm not a Beckett scholar and I like it that way," and then he starts a series of ruminating reflections that avoid classification on Beckett's Texts for Nothing and Watt with a broad Boston accent. He says of Beckett's inscrutable work, "You will never pierce ... It's a huge and mysterious and beautiful continent." The consummate artist goes into a scene from Endgame, then pulls baggy pants and clown shoes from a trunk and does Pozzo's disturbing soliloquy from Waiting for Godot with a rope around his neck. It's a moment to remember.

"Irwin and Beckett are artistic soul mates," as quoted from the San Francisco Chronicle. I agree with that and I have a new appreciation of Samuel Beckett's words thanks to this skillful actor.

On Beckett runs through January 22nd, 2017, at ACT's Strand Theater, 1127 Market Street, San Francisco. For tickets please call 415-749-2228 or visit act-sf.org. Coming up next to their main theatre, the Geary Theater, located at 405 Geary St. is Ursula Rami Sarma's A Thousand Splendid Suns running from February 1 to February 26.


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