(Aslanyan’s article appeared in the London Review of Books, 8/13.)
‘One does not have to look for distress. It is screaming at you even in the taxis of London,’ Beckett once said. His plays are almost absent from this year’s Edinburgh Fringe – strange, as he is usually given a lot of attention here – but his influence is everywhere.
Below the Breadline, half of Simply See Productions’ Desperate Measuresdouble bill, weaves together stories of young Londoners who hate their jobs and their Tube commute, made marginally more tolerable by the newly available wifi. The stage design has all of them – a publishing intern, a regional manager at PC World, a nurse – stacking and restacking boxes, on which they then sit, glued to their smartphones or dreaming of a move to Zone 3. The other half of Desperate Measures is Philip Ridley’s Moonfleece, about the rise of the far right in Britain, which in 2010 was banned in Dudley (then a BNP stronghold). In this version its characters look like peaceniks compared to the London commuters.
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