Produced at the Baryshnikov Arts Center on West 37th Street, this is a compilation of short pieces from the great Samuel Beckett, one of the darkest of playwrights, yet curiously optimistic and existential in his outlook on life.

These five short pieces – the whole production takes about an hour – are moody pieces, the messages not really products of the words.  Indeed, one of the pieces is pure mime.  The scene opens with two large white sacks on the stage.  A large white pointer descends from the ceiling and points to one of the sacks.  A man gets out and goes through his daily routine of getting ready for work.  But he struggles all the way through, and struggles in a funny way that makes the audience laugh at its own daily grind and the mishaps and good days and bad which we are all subject to and victims of.

So the first man has trouble getting his pants on, only to discover they are on backwards and he must start again.  He has trouble with his shoes, his toothbrush, a childproof pill bottle.  When he goes to do his work, dragging the other sack, it is very heavy.  He is like the sad clown played all those years by Emmett Kelly of Ringling Brothers Circus fame.

Just the opposite when it is the other sack’s turn to be pointed out and opened.  This fellow has slept restfully, dresses quickly, brushes his teeth, his underarms – whatever – and has a much easier time sliding the other sack across the stage.  He even finds the carrot in his pocket delicious.  Guy # 1 did not.

An often told, yet very poignant tale of two cities, or men if you like.

In two interstitial pieces, the one female performer of the trio speaks of solitude, hers and everyone’s, sitting in her window and facing other windows and windows and windows and windows.  One and on.  In her other solo piece she does the same thing in different words.

The group shines in the final vignette.  All dressed as women, they take turns gossiping in pairs while the other is off on a task, sharing secrets we will never know, but understanding that they are irrelevant as they are.  They are only relevant as we are.  The visuals here are stunning.  The two men are taller than the woman, and she knows just how to shrink herself to look even smaller.  The contrast is great, even as they switch positions to make different forms.  For this reviewer, it was the visuals more than the dialog that were interesting in this final piece.

The first was perhaps the darkest.  A one-legged man tries to engage a blind man, but it is not to be.  They try to combine their resources, the one his eyes, the other his mobility, but the relationship breaks down.  “If you are unhappy, why don’t you just stop eating and let yourself die?” asks the one.  “Because I am not unhappy enough,” replies Billy.

The actors are Jos Houben, Marcello Magni and Kathryn Hunter, all very professional and effective in their roles.