Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay
Sam and Dede is based on a true story involving these two men. In 1958, 12-year-old André Roussimoff's acromegaly prevented him from taking the school bus. André was already six feet tall and weighed 240 pounds. Samuel Beckett, neighbor and good friend of André's father, offered to transport the young giant to school in his truck. Playwright Gino Dilorio imagines a series of scenes in later life where the two meet as adults, in which Beckett called the giant Dede.
Dilorio's dialogue sparkles with Beckett-style remarks while these two "giants" of the literary and wrestling worlds converse. The imaginary meetings involve conversations that are intelligent, witty, and bright. During the dialogues they discuss Beckett's Waiting for Godot as what they are waiting for. André gives some fake wrestling pointers that one might see in the ring, while Beckett tries to show André how to write a book. During these discussions they drink copious amounts of wine.
Brendan Averett and Dave Sikula are brilliant as André and Samuel Beckett. Averett morphs into a 12-year-old at the beginning of the play, and later he is charming, outgoing, and gregarious in his acting. David Sikula as Beckett is the perfect foil for this expansive person. It is a terrific tour de force of underplayed acting.
Leah S. Abrams beautifully and smoothly directs this fast-paced 90-minute dramas. Erik LaDue's set is a series of boxes of different heights and lengths that are used for the truck at the beginning of the drama and later as table and chairs. Maxx Kurzunski's lighting and Brooke Jennings' costumes add to the enjoyment of the play.
Sam and Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant runs through March 5, 2016, at the new Custom Made Theatre, 533 Sutter Street just off Union Square in San Francisco. For tickets call 415-798-2682 or www.custommade.org. Coming up next is Will Eno's Middletown opening on March 24th.