Concept is everything. Especially when working on a classic. In Ben Diserens’s Beckett in Benghazi, the madcap director Judy has the wild idea of taking her production of Samuel Beckett’s Endgame and transporting it to Benghazi. Inspired by the attacks in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, Judy takes her “artistically” driven Beckett play and uses it in attempts to make a political statement. The outcome of the play within the play is tragically hilarious. Unfortunately the execution of the real play is a bit disconnected.
Diseerens’s script is filled with inconsistencies. Though the inconsistencies are quite wonderful. Beckett and Benghazi has three basic ideas that try to work together as one but rarely do. At the beginning of the play it’s a bunch of clowns performing Beckett. Then it’s a bunch of clowns trying to tech a play. Then it’s a company of theater artists talking about Benghazi and politics in general. If the script focused on two of the three, like eliminating Endgame and pigeonholing it into the plot or dismissing the clowns (despite some phenomenal clowning by the ensemble), the play may have been much more successful. Beckett in Benghazi suffers from too much at once. Again, while the pieces were wonderful, they didn’t complete the same puzzle. One of the most drastic jumps the play had was the politically powered acting exercise the cast explored that leaped into the hilariously farcical final product the director concocted. Both good, they just didn’t mesh.
Beckett in Benghazi has the potential for something great. It needs more time to decide what exactly it truly wants to be. Once it does, look out for it again because it does have its moments.