Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: San Francisco/North Bay

Sam and Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant
Custom Made Theatre Co.
Review by Richard Connema | Season Schedule

Also see Patrick's reviews of Kismet and Aubergine and Richard's reviews of Dogeaters and Little Erik

Dave Sikula and Brendan Averett
Photo by Jay Yamada
The Custom Made Theatre Co. is committed to producing plays that awaken our social conscience. They are currently presenting a brilliant new play based on conversations between Samuel Beckett and André the Giant, the legendary wrestler noted for being 7'4" and weighing 500 pounds (he later went on to a film career, including playing the lovable giant Fezzik in Rob Reiner's classic The Princess Bride). This 90-minute drama is called Sam and Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant, and was written by Gino Dilorio.

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 Coming up next is Will Eno's Middletown opening on March 24th.