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Immersed in ‘Stranger Things,’ Then Strolling to Beckett


No amusement genius has yet made a Samuel Beckett pinball machine — I imagine a dark palette, defective flippers and a high-score list that reads GODOT GODOT GODOT. But those longing for a Beckett brand extension can as an alternative arrive at Latest York University’s Skirball Center for “Cascando,” an adaptation of a Beckett radio play from the early Nineteen Sixties. It comes courtesy of Pan Pan Theater, an Irish company with an insouciant approach to the classics.

Originally created along with the composer Marcel Mihalovici, “Cascando” is meant as a passive audio experience. But this “Cascando,” directed by Gavin Quinn and designed by Aedin Cosgrove, adds a participatory element.

Upon arrival each ticket holder is outfitted in a black-hooded robe and handed a pair of headphones. Loosed onto La Guardia Place, a quiet street adjoining to Washington Square Park in Manhattan, participants begin a single-file walk around and thru the neighboring blocks. As they stroll, they hearken to the text, prerecorded here by Andrew Bennett and Daniel Reardon.

To wander the Village dressed as a high-fashion druid, a goth garden gnome, is fun of a form. But there are not any stops along the way in which, no interactions, no activations. The choreography — a pointy turn here and there — is minimal. At one point, I wondered, with almost breathless excitement, if we’d sit. We didn’t sit.

While it is sensible to come across Beckett’s text via headphones — there are references throughout to a story existing only in someone’s head — the alone-together walk doesn’t illuminate or galvanize the text, which is, like a lot of Beckett’s work, heavy on repetition and ellipses. On the rainy sidewalk, meaning slid away.

In one other city, at one other moment, a show like “Cascando” might a minimum of have ornamented the road life. But Latest York’s typical street life is already a wide range of theater, druids or no. As we re-entered the park, I saw a clump of skateboarders look us up and down. We had change into a part of their story, I assumed for a moment, a part of their experience. Then they shrugged and returned to their conversation. Just one other Wednesday within the Village, bro.

Stranger Things: The Experience
Through Aug. 21 at Duggal Greenhouse, Brooklyn; strangerthings-experience.com. Running time: 45 minutes for the show, then mingling.

Through July 3 at N.Y.U. Skirball, Manhattan; nyuskirball.org. Running time: half-hour.

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