As the title suggests, Michael Watts’ Not Like Beckett is not like a play by Samuel Beckett. Although it does have some similarities: a lone voice calling out, things that start off sounding like nonsense, and a strong thread of absurdism.
Walter Walloon Beckett is a rabbit: a tap-dancing, vulgar comedian but still a rabbit. But this is not the sort of a play that has an actor dressed in a rabbit suit (thank heavens). Instead it’s a one-man show about Australia’s colonial history, misogyny and rabbits. It’s a play about a man trying to become someone different, to leave behind his sins and make a fresh start. Except that he’s not a man, he’s a rabbit.
WW Beckett comes from a long line of Becketts. As he says:
We were the first rabbits to come to this part of the country.
We were the vanguard.
The original wave.
We followed close in the footsteps of the early explorers.
We crossed the border over a century ago.
Made our way across vast deserts.
It wasn’t easy.
We Becketts have been here a long time.
Many, many generations.
We made this country what it is.
We opened it up.
We were the first settlers.
We paved the road for those that have followed.
We did the hard miles.
This is rabbit country now.
Good honest rabbit country.
But Wally Walloon blew the good name of his forebears when he fell in love with Boo Boo, a bilby. And he lost his sense of self when he started to punish and taunt Boo Boo for her differences, for being the last of a dying race. Now, Wally is stuck on top of a mountain with his lucky rabbit foot caught in a trap, waiting for the trapper to come and skin him alive. But he’s not pessimistic about the outcome: he hopes to make a dapper felt hat that will live on for ever.
Michael Watts has written a play that’s dark, funny and filled with deeper meanings for those inclined to burrow beneath the surface (a pun almost worthy of Wally Walloon).
Publisher: Playlab Press