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Sam & Dede, or My Dinner with Andre the Giant

From 13 critic and 43 member reviews
Members say: Great acting, Clever, Entertaining, Intelligent, Absorbing

About the show

The Custom Made Theatre Co. presents the East Coast premiere of this absurdist two-hander about a young André the Giant hitching rides to school with Samuel Beckett. More…

Inspired by a totally true story! 12-year-old André the Giant—already over 6-feet tall and 240 pounds—didn't fit on the school bus. To repay a favor, a neighbor offered to drive André to school in his truck. That neighbor was avant-garde writer Samuel Beckett. 'Sam & Dede, or My Dinner with André the Giant' imagines a series of scenes between the mismatched pair: a giant who could never hide and a writer obsessed with silence.


"Cleverly written, wonderfully acted, and staged with creative simplicity...Playwright Gino DiIorio has taken this factual incident and ingeniously woven it in to a very entertaining 85-minute, two-character biographical play...The bald, hulking and charming Brendan Averett delivers a commanding performance as Andre...Sikula’s performance is a marvelous channeling...A beautiful edition to the theatrical genre of historical personages dramatized in fanciful situations." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

“The very idea that these two people from such wildly disparate worlds might have been friends is certainly intriguing—and in the writing and playing of the piece—wonderfully insightful…The clash of Beckett’s constant uncertainty versus Andre’s clear-headed, blunt way of managing his over-sized life, make for great theater…While the show’s dialogue is occasionally stilted, Averett’s sensational performance keeps the show continually engaging and ultimately revelatory.” Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"Both Sikula and Averett provide engaging, often funny, performances that allow us to accept them as two charmingly lost souls, men dominated by their exceptionalism and consequent inability to fit in. Leah S. Abrams's staging—using Eric Ladue's abstract set of movable, different-sized blocks, efficiently lit by Maxx Kurzunski—keeps things moving but wastes too much time on tiresome, actor-performed scene shifts." Full Review

Theatre is Easy

"An adoring memento to the two giants—one literal, the other literary—it portrays...It's littered with references to works by both men, references that both celebrate and satirize...Director Leah S. Abrams really succeeds in bringing the playful banter to life...Dave Sikula and Brendan Averett have great chemistry...There's a lot of humor and love in it, and little else. It's both warm and weird, and it paints an attractive picture of what their relationship may have been like." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"None of it digs too deep or anything, but it’s really all the more charming for its relaxed airiness. As it’s a fun little piece, it works as a nice reminder of both how intensely human Beckett was under his abstractions, but also...of how funny Beckett was and is...There’s a pleasant touch of poignancy in all this which is all the more welcome in that the play doesn’t really strive for sentimentality—it’s just kind of there...Well-acted, well-written, well-directed." Full Review

Woman Around Town

"Conversation is engaging. Clearly playwright Gino Diiorio knows something about both forms of theater...Both actors are fine, but it’s Brendan Averett’s André who captivates. The artist inhabits his character at three stages of life with vocal, bearing and mood change...Director Leah S. Abrams lets Sam be André’s foil (as scripted) without completely eschewing the latter’s personality. She manages to imbue physicality into a play comprised greatly of conversation." Full Review

The New York Times

"Dilorio’s lightweight tale is an affectionate tribute...Based on a piece of trivia, the play feels pretty trivial. It’s a skit that outgrows itself. The characters incline more toward caricature and Mr. Sikula and Mr. Averett, cheerful performers both, don’t look or sound like the real men they’re playing, which diminishes the fun...What’s most charming about the piece is the playwright’s obvious enthusiasm for both men and the men’s fondness for each other." Full Review

Plays to See

"A series of conversations, an extended encounter contrasting two misfits’ attempts to come to terms with life. Averett is impressively, fully convincing as Dede...Is this the Beckett who needed open, alien air around him even to be able to think his own thoughts?...The shadow and intensity of that lifelong intellectual struggle is evident in any photo of Beckett, but in this portrayal, not so much...Beckett’s wit might have been a little more evident too if he were more clearly Irish." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"A pretty frail premise for a play, and indeed 'Sam and Dede' works overtime trying to spin some kind of dramatic action out of it. Basically, the big idea is that Beckett was an intellectual giant and André was, well, a giant...Not so much a play as a compare-and-contrast essay...An eighty-minute back-and-forth that produces almost nothing in the way of insight or wit...You can learn more about either man by staying home and checking out their Wikipedia pages." Full Review

Theatre Eddys Blogspot

for a previous production "A total delight and is guaranteed to bring many audience smiles and laughs along the way and a collective sigh of full satisfaction as its lights go out...Kudos to all involved. Rarely have I been to a play where I had so much regret that the end had arrived. I so wanted Sam and Dede just to keep on meeting and talking. Custom Made Theatre Company and Gino Dilorio have teamed to produce a winner that even in its first production, feels pretty perfect." Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

for a previous production "A brilliant new play based on conversations between Samuel Beckett and André the Giant...Dilorio's dialogue sparkles with Beckett-style remarks...The imaginary meetings involve conversations that are intelligent, witty, and bright...Brendan Averett and Dave Sikula are brilliant as André and Samuel Beckett...It is a terrific tour de force of underplayed acting...Leah S. Abrams beautifully and smoothly directs this fast-paced 90-minute drama." Full Review


for a previous production "An extraordinarily well-realized two-hander...Dilorio has wisely treated the two characters more as archetypes of Intellect vs Body rather than specific historical personages. As a result, the play works beautifully as an exploration of human types and ideals...In the tradition of Beckett, it is also extremely offbeat and funny. Dilorio’s insightful understanding of Beckett’s famous ouvre is in evidence throughout, without ever sliding into shallow parody...A delicious success!" Full Review

For All Events

for a previous production "An 85-minute opus that mixes semi-intellectual, mundane banter and humorous interplay with physicality to create a thoughtful but not quite fully satisfying evening...Averett has the physical stature for the role and brings power with more than a touch of humanity in his characterization. Dave Sikula brilliantly underplays the role of Sam becoming a perfect foil for Andre...The staging of the final scene ties up a few loose ends but to this reviewer is unnecessarily hyperbolic." Full Review

Funny, Great acting, Refreshing, Masterful

See it if You enjoy a well written play crisply acted with masterful direction.

Don't see it if You don't enjoy a meditative evening of theater.

Absorbing, Clever, Entertaining, Funny, Great acting

See it if You're a fan of other classic professional wrestling, or classic theater, and don't mind a small theater space without the fluff of Broadway

Don't see it if You dislike small theater shows. This is a story that doesn't need tremendous sets or lighting.

Also Play was gripping, and had me completely lost in the story for the ful... Read more Read less

Great acting, Great writing, Funny

See it if You love Beckett (+/or Andre the Giant); you enjoy clever dialogue and great acting; want to see a play about an unlikely friendship.

Don't see it if you didn't enjoy "MY Dinner with Andre" or "Breakfast with Blassie" or dialogue driven works. You don't like Beckett or Andre the Giant.

Also This was a WONDERFUL and delightful surprise, like walking into a loca... Read more Read less

Funny, Great acting, Edgy, Ambitious, Profound

See it if you like Beckett. You appreciate the absurdity of life. You can appreciate the influence of Beckett on the absurdity of life and vice versa.

Don't see it if you don't like two-person theater in a minimal setting in which words/concepts/the human condition are interchangeable metaphors.

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if You enjoy a 2 man show with simple stage props, but very clever dialogue and excellent acting.

Don't see it if You expect to be razzle-dazzled

Absorbing, Clever, Quirky, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you want to see the nearly unbelievably true friendship of the titular gents. Also if you miss or missed the Falsettos staging. Charming.

Don't see it if See it.

Entertaining, Intelligent, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Funny

See it if You like quirky, interesting, true stories, told in a linear way, but with tangents of Becket-like surrealism.

Don't see it if You don't like intimate, black box theater productions that explore quirky, relationships that have a profound impact on each character.

Absorbing, Great acting, Great writing, Intelligent, Thought-provoking

See it if you have read, or know something about Samuel Beckett, or like clever character studies.

Don't see it if if you want something totally accessible, or have no interest in the two subjects.

Also The play, as the story of the relationship between these two fascinati... Read more Read less

Charming and better than i expected

See it if you want to smile and enjoy a great show with great acting and in a tiny theater

Don't see it if you want a big flashy production. This is show is perfect is the space it was in

Also I used to do some professional wrestling so I knew I would see this sh... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Entertaining, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Intelligent

See it if you like Samuel Beckett, Andre the Giant or if you like strange truthiness.

Don't see it if you like formulaic sitcoms.

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Profound, Great writing, Great staging

See it if Extraordinarily well-acted portrait of childhood by Dave Sikula. Intimate portrait of 2 giants in their field who were able to communicate.

Don't see it if if you prefer a complex plot over complex characters

Engaging, Clever, Entertaining, Quirky

See it if you want to see a very unusual pairing of two well-known characters engage with each other - inspired by real life stories.

Don't see it if you don’t like minimalist staging, quirky characters and long conversations; not familiar with or dislike "Waiting for Godot".

Also I enjoyed seeing this quirky mix of two characters unfold and bond. I ... Read more Read less

Intimate, Thoughtful, Revealing

See it if Affecting, generous and.kind one-acter in which Beckett and Andre the Giant - who really met - converse about the state of their lives..

Don't see it if ...and hopes. Two men who crave privacy but live public lives, one who has no answers, one who lives on borrowed time. Slow start

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Quirky, Thought-provoking

See it if you are knowledgeable of Beckett's works and have an interest in plausible connection between the him and the wrestler, Andre The Giant

Don't see it if you are easily bored and have no knowledge of Beckett or his works; prefer a play with more action and less banter.

Affectionate treatment, Good acting/direction, Smart and touching, Based on true story, Entertaining

See it if Like exploring odd/quirky friendships between very different people. Have some knowledge of Beckett plays & enjoy watching conversations.

Don't see it if Want lots of action/realistic set. It's about existentialism & knowing about/liking Waiting for Godot is helpful. Don't like 2-handers.

Also Saw this in April, 2017 at 59e59 Theater.

Clever, Enchanting, Entertaining, Touching, Quirky

See it if you want to see a terrific actor play Andre the Giant over 20 years of life using theatrical staging and nice lighting.

Don't see it if you are unable to use your imagination or want to see a deeply developed Sam Beckett character.

Interesting, Well-acted

See it if You've any interest in the lives of Andre and Beckett...interesting story based on fact.

Don't see it if You're looking for a seriously amazing play!

Intelligent, Profound, Entertaining, Interesting, Surprising

See it if You want an interesting play about the oddest of Odd Couples you never knew about. Two men from very different worlds become friends.

Don't see it if If small plays about interesting characters are not your thing.

Clever, Thought-provoking, Disappointing, Funny, Intelligent

See it if you know/love Beckett's work well b/c there is pleasure in recognizing him in this, philosophy is your thing, you want an original story

Don't see it if you expect to care, to root for and want these characters to achieve something, it's more of an idea piece than character-driven w/ stakes

The opening scenes were pulsatile the emotion so true

See it if Half a wonderful play is sufficient. There were moments in the mid and later scenes, before a nice payoff in the final scene.

Don't see it if a two hander in a small theater with minimal staging does not appeal. You are bothered by 15 minutes of excessive drinking with no reason.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Quirky, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you like Beckett; this play, about him, is in his style. Discussions about writing and life's meaning. Some slow dialogue, but pay-offs.

Don't see it if you want a lot of plot. S&D is philosophical/character-driven. The weird premise works. Strong acting fr Andre. Where's SB's Irish accent?

Also Someone else mentioned the prolonged heavy drinking scene. It bothered... Read more Read less

Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow, Insipid

See it if you enjoy slower-paced plays that make you ponder on life, personality/societal-related things.

Don't see it if you don't like minimal staging and long conversation/dialogues.

Also Definitely not the kind of comedy I was expecting. I didn't laugh much... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Edgy, Indulgent, Intelligent, Slow

See it if You enjoy slice of life theater about two very interesting people. You like small shows in intimate spaces.

Don't see it if You need things to go somewhere or your characters to really grow. This was a super slow play that didn't really build. I wanted more.

Thought-provoking, Excruciating, Great writing, Slow, Uneven

See it if you want to see a really interesting play given a really disappointing production (one of the two actors did great--the other did NOT).

Don't see it if bad acting in a two-hander is a dealbreaker for you, even if one of the actors is really excellent.

During previews
Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Great acting, Refreshing

See it if Yes, Beckett drove Andre the Giant to school! Nicely written-acted w/such charm & vulnerability by Averette. Sweet & funny. Very enjoyable~

Don't see it if Ur looking for a big action play. Series of short scenes take u thru periods of their lives where they continue 2 question & enjoy ea other~

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Cast & Creatives (11)