September 19, 2014

Beckett’s ‘Embers,’ at the Brooklyn Academy of Music

The way to hear Samuel Beckett’s radio play “Embers,” in the Pan Pan Theater production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, is to shut out the vivid imagery onstage. Only then will Beckett’s words, the story of a solitary man named Henry, lost in thoughts spoken aloud at the sea’s edge, be free to form pictures in your mind.

That advice seems counterintuitive, and terribly conservative: Who goes to the theater to ignore visuals as striking as these? An enormous sculpted skull (by Andrew Clancy) hunkers amid a landscape of stones; around it, hundreds of small round speakers hang suspended and gleaming. Aedin Cosgrove bathes it all in gorgeous lighting, now stark, now soft and undulating. As an art installation, the design is a thorough success.

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