New York | 1h 10m | Already closed

Beckett in the City: The Women Speak

From 7 critic and 4 member reviews
Members say: Intelligent, Exquisite, Absorbing, Profound, Great acting

About the show

Irish Arts Center invites you to experience the women who inhabit some of Beckett’s best-known short works in this site-specific performance. More…

Director Sarah Jane Scaife places Beckett’s characters from the page into the urban landscape, using the aesthetic tools of the body, sound, site, movement, architecture, and projection to put flesh on the scars the playwright reveals within our society.


"Hauntingly beautiful and brilliantly performed, these plays are must-see gems...These works include some of the most provocative and beautiful images in modern theater, and Scaife's direction makes them achingly resonant...A superb opportunity to experience four minor masterpieces in an evocative, nontraditional venue...These tender and tragic depictions of women rank among Beckett's best creations, and this exquisite production allows their profound, poetic voices to be heard." Full Review

The New York Times

"Powerfully articulates the theme of powerlessness. The stirring actresses use their lined faces and roughened voices to fill out the material, making the experience less abstract and terrifying. Still, it’s tough to maintain an air of horror and extremity when each vignette is preceded by a good-natured scramble for floor cushions...It seemed silly to wander from one black box to the next, especially when this relative freedom of movement contrasted with the imprisonment of the women onstage." Full Review


for a previous production “Scaife proves herself a theatre artist of breathtaking talent and compass…A searing, draining experience, with Scaife's direction of each of the plays offering new insights, no matter how familiar one may be with both text and performance…A perfect setting for the actors who cry out from memory and for recognition. In Scaife's hands, this place is both their soul and their body…Ni Neachtain's cadences are devastating." Full Review

No More Workhorse

for a previous production “A production that focuses on atmosphere and lighting, while keeping the words of the master at its heart...They are rewarding and complex pieces. The lighting is one of the more striking things, and also the use of projections onto the walls of the building...The performances are varied, with one piece being a crash of words and the next slow and thoughtful. This is a subtle and rich show that could take repeated viewing, and a treat for any Beckett fan.” Full Review

Irish Times

for a previous production “Beckett could resemble just another punishing patriarchal figure. But Company SJ’s continuing project…recognizes his grim sense of empathy, here summoning a political contour for these glimpses of incarceration, burden, and disintegration…Under Scaife’s careful direction, fine performances allow for elucidating echoes…When the performers finally convene on old school chairs for 'Come and Go,' a Möbius strip of birth, struggle and death, the intent comes full circle.” Full Review


for a previous production “‘The Women Speak’ achingly articulates the ramshackle body of the female in nationalist Ireland…That all these calamities run into ‘Come and Go,’ a choreographed drama about three gossipy women on a bench, brings new consequence…‘I can feel the rings’ claims one of them at the end, though according to Beckett's instructions none are apparent. Yet there are circular lines in Scaife's haunting production: those repeated tragedies of Ireland's women, still revolving today.” Full Review

Exeunt Magazine

for a previous production “Scaife makes some wonderfully innovative use of this near-derelict building…‘Not I’…is too interested in accentuation and timbre….All three actors…execute ‘Come and Go’ with studied grace yet it is here that the venue served the production least well…Although the entreatment to consider Beckett’s representations of women in relation to a specifically Irish history of marginalization is unconvincing, ‘The Women Speak’ movingly reminds us of the humanizing power of Beckett’s work.” Full Review

Absorbing, Intelligent, Performances of the highest order, Profound, Thought-provoking

See it if you are a Beckett fan or want to see new insights into 4 of his frequently-performed plays. Exquisite acting.

Don't see it if you are not familiar with the work of Samuel Beckett. Or if your taste runs to more conventional theatre.

Exquisite, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Riveting

See it if you want to see three older and brilliant Irish actresses who do justice to the poetry of Beckett's words.

Don't see it if ! want to see a more traditional play .

Also You immediately get caught up in the dark haunting atmosphere as you w... Read more Read less

Masterful, Must see for beckett readers, Niche crowd/appeal, Profound, Great staging

See it if Ideal Beckett! U=happy to watch slow, repetitive movements in near darkness & compare to your own slow, repetitive movements toward death!

Don't see it if Beckett’s style is irredeemable, or you’re unfamiliar w/ the playwright—this could be excruciating for someone w/ no idea what to expect

Also These rarely produced shorts are so skillfully performed and true to t... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Exquisite, Great acting, Intelligent, Masterful

See it if Love Beckett and want to see it done well. One may not understand it but it still should be seen. And in a site-specific relevant space.

Don't see it if Looking for fluff.

Cast & Creatives (10)