‘We wanted to do the plays like no one has ever done before.’
Usually, this statement would have really got my back up. The works Adam El Hagar - who with partner Michael Rivers, acts and direct as d’Animate Theatre - is referring to are Samuel Beckett’s ‘Roughs for Theatre I & II’. Like many who admire the great Irish playwright and who have had to sit through too many god-awful ‘novel’ interpretations, I’m instantly suspicious of anyone tinkering around the edges of his masterpieces.
D’Animate, founded by Rivers in 2011, has been making a name for itself at the Edinburgh Fringe for reworking modern classics. Last year, their Bitesize Chekov (a tripartite introduction to the Russian master) sold-out at Spotlites and, fusing together Beckett’s two one-act sketches into an hour-long show, Roughs is playing to packed audiences at Zoo Southside this time around.
Quite in spite of myself, I absolutely loved it – as have a diverse audience from greying connoisseurs to uninitiated under-10s. I met up with Adam and Michael between shows at the Zoo Bar to talk about what sets them apart.
Barely two years out of East 15 Acting School, where they met and cut their teeth, d’Animate certainly dust-off these largely forgotten pieces with a definite freshness: ‘I approached Beckett with a certain degree of naiveté’, says Michael, sat in the fitting gloom of a cloudy Edinburgh afternoon. ‘I purposefully didn’t research the plays; I just studied text.’