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The Collected Shorter Plays

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,902 ratings  ·  48 reviews
Samuel Beckett, the great minimalist master and winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize for Literature, produced some of his most widely praised work for the stage in the form of the short play. This complete and definitive collection of twenty-five plays and "playlets" includes Beckett's celebrated Krapp's Last Tape, Embers, Cascando, Play, Eh Joe, Not I, and Footfalls, as well as ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 13th 2010 by Grove Press (first published 1984)
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Average rating 4.23  · 
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Jan 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
so no lovespared thatno love such as normally vented on thespeechless infantin the homeno

My lukewarm rating is far more indicative of my inability to understand what the hell Beckett was saying half the time than it is of the actual quality of these plays. Some of them struck me as brilliant, original, and powerfully moving, whereas, with way too many others, I honestly couldnt figure out what the fuck was going on, and had to rely on various online analyses and interpretations. The fact that,
Sep 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

--All That Fall
--Act Without Words I
--Act Without Words II
--Krapp's Last Tape
--Rough for Theatre I
--Rough for Theatre II
--Rough for Radio I
--Rough for Radio II
--Words and Music
--The Old Tune
--Come and Go
--Eh Joe
--Not I
--That Time
--Ghost Trio
--... but the clouds ...
--A Piece of Monologue
--Ohio Impromptu
--Nacht und Träume
--What Where
The adventure of a train delay. A radio play with all of Beckett's trademark playfulness, bitterness, and absurdity. A story with a zinger. A late-arriving character, the blind (maybe) Mr. Rooney, is the life of the party and the motive of the not particularly motive play.
"... On the other hand, I said, there are the horrors of home life, the dusting, sweeping, airing, scrubbing, waxing, waning, washing, mangling, drying, mowing, clipping, raking, rolling, scuffling, shovelling,
Sep 22, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Look. Dig it. Wait with it. Retrace you steps to it. Find yourself haunted by it. Beckett's work here, his shorter and lesser known drama  may be part of an eternal and endless palinode, but it's at times a beautiful and cutting, hopeless and uplifting one. Read past Waiting for Godot, Endgame & Act Without Words, and Krapp's Last Tape, please! You're worth it, and so too is Sam Beckett. ...more
Erika Curtis
Mar 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
I read several of these plays for my Modern Drama course and quite frankly, I did not understand what was happening in the majority of them; however, I am excited to hear what my professor has to say about them. I also have a feeling that I will go back and change my rating for these plays once I have a more thorough understanding of what Beckett was trying to accomplish throughout these pieces.

Plays read: Play, Not I, Rockaby, Krapp's Last Tape, Act Without Words I, Act Without Words II, Come
Dec 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play-drama
Oh my goodness. The shorter his plays, the more crazed they are. Ohio Impromptu is one of the most depressing things I have ever seen or read. So is Not I. Beckett bends everything way beyond its limits here. The end results are prescient, untraceable, and at times almost profound. That;s about as much as I can intelligibly say.
Simon Mcleish
Jan 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in February 2002.

Beckett has a reputation as one of the most difficult twentieth century writers, many finding even his most accessible and most famous play, Waiting for Godot, impenetrable. As a follower of Joyce, there is certainly something in this, as is perhaps particularly apparent in the thirty or so short dramtic pieces collected here, which actually make up the bulk of his output.

They stretch the meaning of the word "play" somewhat; originally
James F
Twenty-nine very short, very depressing plays, written between 1957 and 1984, in chronological order. None were much over ten pages long; some were written in English, others translated from French. They are mainly absurdist pieces, about the meaninglessness of life. The best known is probably Krapp's Last Tape. The most interesting was a filmscript with the generic title Film, which played with the idea of esse est percipi. The same ideas were repeated through most of the plays, which mainly ...more
Joseph Mirabelli
In particular, the plays containing both words and directions for music were haunting. Rarely have entries so short, taking just minutes to read, left me needing so much mental digestion. Very worth it, particularly the plays "Cascando" and "Embers."
Jan 20, 2014 added it
Shelves: bkclb
Small doses necessary. Brilliant man, but too much, too fast may cause madness.
Rick Homuth
Some of it is great. Some of it is way over my head. Most of it is both.
Sep 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
(3.5.) In my Directing II class this semester, we're tackling Beckett's short plays. It feels a bit unfair to spring him on some unsuspecting theatre kids who are doing this for fun, but I'm interested in the challenge of directing something for which the stage directions are so rigid. Absurdism / existentialism have never been my favorite genres (although I did enjoy Waiting for Godot after reading it the third time - it grows on you.) I'm thinking of directing Catastrophe, but I'll update once ...more
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
My recent reading of Beckett's plays included Happy Days, Embers, and Not I, the last two of which are included in this excellent collection of his shorter plays. The length of these plays does not diminish their brilliance or depth of meaning.
In these short plays Beckett focused even more tightly on the inner experience of humanity. In Embers, a play written for the radio Beckett presents a man named Henry who shares his thoughts, both through attempting to tell a story and through memories of
Dec 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
of all the authors i have read, i find Beckett to be the most challenging by far... in much the same way as reading textbooks and scholarly works (meaning books meant to teach first and foremost and not to entertain or take one's mind off the day or transport you to another world/time/perspective), reading Beckett forces you to pay full attention to every single word... you can't skim Beckett, or if you do, then you are not reading Beckett at all, for by skipping or eliding or jumping ahead you ...more
Oct 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
If you want to feed your existentialist fire, these well written, literary plays by Beckett are the way to go. Some are better than others, (my favorite by a long shot was "This Time") but most of them are pretty spectacular pieces of modernism, and should be consumed by lovers of the genre. Now on to Waiting for Godot...
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beckett's later short plays explore the ways in which people become physically and emotionally exiled. Characters find themselves in increasingly restricted poses (stuck in an urn, rocking chair, park bench.... His women are haunting. You have to watch "Not I" to get the full experience. Youtube has the Billie Whitelaw version which Beckett directed.
David Allen
Usefully, this compiles 29 short plays. (Now how much would you pay?) "All That Fall," "Krapp's Last Tape" and "The Old Tune" are particularly good. Some of the rest might be improved by seeing them live. Some, which consist almost entirely of diagrams and stage and lighting directions, barely exist.
Feb 09, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
Read Krapp's Last Tape - solid Beckett - though the monologue format made it harder initially to engage with the plot. I wonder, though, how much additional value I get from reading more of Beckett's work beyond Waiting for Godot. Law of diminishing returns?
Jessica Hatch
Sep 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mystifying and oh so post-modern. I especially loved discovering "Play" and "That Time," which are both monologues in the round.

My only wish is that the book came with some back matter to help contextualize the plays so that the reader could make more analytical sense of them.
Jul 08, 2008 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Oh man, this guy's a freak! You call this drama? You call this writing? Well, that said, his plays are actually quite good if your prepared to spend a lot of time with them - and if you have a good internet connection that will allow you decent access to youtube.
Rasmus Skovdal
Feb 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating based on 'Not I', 'Footfalls', 'Rockaby', 'All That Fall' (the most immediately accesible of the five pieces I read) and 'A Piece of Monologue' (the most interesting of the five pieces I read).
Jennifer E
Yea for Footfalls! I loved performing that at the community college.
I've read End Game and Waiting for Godot, and The Texts for Nothing.
Jan 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beckett's shorter plays are phenomenal. Darkly funny.
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
A collection of his great plays! Must read
Jun 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Just another of those old tales to keep the void from pouring in on top of you."
Dec 13, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some better than others here. These works command work to be done, but "Krapp's Last Tape" is a must for any young dramatic would be scholar.
Michael P.
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant short plays by a brilliant tall playwright.
Gregory Knapp
Feb 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
This edition is especially noted for including Krapp's Last Tape among many other wonderful pieces.
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: beckett
So many plays - so strange - some very hard to read, but it's a great collection to get a feel for what Beckett was doing with theatre as a medium. Now I'm on to the short prose.
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Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in France for most of his adult life. He wrote in both English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.

Beckett is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century. Strongly influenced

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