81: Words and Music

10 Jun

Another short radio play by Samuel Beckett. He’s a life-saver on busy days.

Words and Music follows Cascando in the compilation I’m reading. Thematically it’s similar with two voices and one part played with music rather than words. The characters in this one are CROAK (think ‘The Opener’ in Cascando), WORDS (the counterpart of ‘Voice’ in Cascando) and MUSIC.

CROAK refers to WORDS as Joe and to MUSIC as Bob, humanising them in our minds and also making them male. The text is less abstract than Cascando, but still oblique. CROAK is old and is the master of the other two. He instructs them on what theme to play and refers to them as his comforts. But the music and words they give seem to offer him no comfort judging by the number of groans and stage directions for anguished tones. Clearly the memory he is evoking isn’t a pleasant one.

Beckett’s use of repetition in phrases helps build the power of the imagery and the tension.

WORDS: -the brows uncloud, the lips part and the eyes … (pause) … the brows uncloud, the nostrils dilate, the lips part and the eyes … (pause) … the lips part, a little colour comes back into the cheeks and the eyes … (reverently) … open.

By the end, the reader or listener may still have no idea of what has transpired, but they will feel the mood that Beckett has conjured. One of loss and regret and, possibly, violence.

Publisher: Grove Press

Cast: 2M and music


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