Excerpt from my article on this project The Aesthetics of Journey, published in Contemporary Theatre Review Vol.1-2, special edition Japanese Theatre and the West edited by A. Horie-Webber, Harwood Academic Publishers, 1994
Journey: A Variation on Beckett
Echoing the contracted tripartite structure of Noh drama, the action in the collage is reduced to essentials: journey/waiting, encounter and anagnorisis. Unlike Komachi, however, the Beckettian heroes inhabit a post-Christian world with little hope of salvation at the end of their road. And the prospect for the two waiting men, forty years on since they were first seen, is necessarily bleaker.
A haunting tune (Chorus) is heard in the distance. As Traveller emerges into a dim light, breathless, muttering inaudible words, the predominant imagery is set:
Trav: (almost inaudibly) Dim light. Source unknown. Know minimum. Know nothing no. Too much to hope. At most mere minimum. (he comes to a halt.) No choice but stand. Somehow up and stand. Somehow stand. That or groan. The groan so long on its way. No. No groan. Simply pain. Simply up. (as he resumes the journey muttering inaudible words, the singing of Chorus overlaps.)
Chor: Where then but there see now another. Bit by bit an old man and child. In the dim void bit by bit an old man and child. They fade. Now the one. Now the twain. Now both. Fade back. Now the one. Now the twain. Now both. Fade? No. Sudden go. Sudden back. Now the one. Now twain. Now both.
The empty space lingers for a while. When Didi and Gogo begin their act, reminiscent of the start of Godot's second act, it soon becomes clear that waiting has taken its toll. Their world has run down further since they were last seen. The tree is gone; Pozzo and Lucky are long gone too, now only a faint uncertain memory of time long past; so it seems is the visit by the Boy that once animated their waiting. The philosophical ponderings that used to enliven their daily routine have apparently been abandoned. Didi's hat now has a hole and Gogo is hatless. They still wait, but neither Didi nor Gogo, unless feigning, is any longer certain who or what it is that they are waiting for.
Didi: We are happy.
Gogo: We are happy. (silence) What do we do now, now that we are happy?
Didi: We wait. . .
Godo: Ah - Wait for. . . ?
Didi: (suddently lost) We wait. . . for. . . Do you not remember?
Godo: Me? No.
Uncertainty is an even more overwhelming feature of their existence now. A haunting tune that intrudes now and then only adds to their sense of dislocation. The question of whether this is where they are to wait assumes a desperately argued prominence in their routine. Didi needs Gogo's reassurance. Were we not here yesterday? Do you not recognize this place? But the notions of time and space have broken down, and Gogo remains noncommittal, either by design or by necessity. All Didi can manage is to force Gogo, through sheer exhaustion, to admit that there is no longer a tree.
Gogo: I'm tired. Let's go.
Didi: We can't.
Gogo: Why not?
Didi: We're waiting. . . for. . . (lost again)
Gogo: For what, WHAT?
Didi: WHOM, imbecile!
Didi: (irritably) Have you really forgotten?
Gogo: More or less. (leaving) I am going.
Didi: Gogo, will you not play?
In this contracted variation, their interplay is reduced to basics. The two men embrace, argue, pass the time playing all manner of games, and, when they have exhausted every possible diversion (What about a little deep breathing? I'm tired of breathing. You're right.), they share what little is left of their food. The haunting tune returns in the fading light and breaks into words:
Chor: Less. Less seen. Less seeing. Less seen and seeing when with words than when not. When somehow than when nohow. Stare by words dimmed. Shades dimmed. Void dimmed. Dim dimmed. All there as when no words. As when nohow. Only all dimmed. Till blank again.
The encounter between Traveller and Didi (Gogo falls asleep at the crucial mement) takes place when the waiting all but seems to have been in vain. A grey figure, breathless, muttering inaudible words, is approaching. Is this the one they have been waiting for? Or could he be, Didi vaguely recalls, the boy who once, or twice, brought them a message from Mr Godot?
Didi: Mister. . . Mister. . . (Traveller halts.) Have I seen you before?
Trav: . . . . .
Didi: Are you from these parts . . . ?
Trav: . . . . .
Didi: (hesitantly) Have you come. . . . with a message . . . ?
Trav: (inaudible) Dim light source unknown. Know minimum. Know nothing no. Too much to hope. At most mere minimum. Meremost minimum -
Didi: Have you come with a message. . . from . . . (hesitates) . . . your master?
Trav: (more audible but with difficulty) Dim light source unknown. Know minimum. Know nothing no. Too much to hope. (pause) Bit by bit an old man and child. In the dim void bit by bit an old man and child. Gone. Both gone.
Didi: . . . . .
Trav: (still more audible) Bit by bit an old man and child. In the dim void bit by bit an old man and child. Gone. Both gone. As good as gone. (pained, almost inaudible) Father. . . (pause) Gone. Gone on long enough. . .
Didi: . . . . .
Trav: Dim light source unknown. Know minimum. Know nothing no. Too much to hope. At most mere minimum. Meremost minimum. (pause) Gone. As good as gone. A long journey since.
Traveller lowers his head and falls silent. His garbled response, or what can be made out of it, is foreboding. Didi observes him intensely for a while and presses on. Traveller's faltering words, however, can only impart what possesses his mind, fragments of the images, voices and memories of his life long past, the time with his master, Hamm.
Didi: (hesitantly) Tell me, tell me about the old man . . . your master . . .
How is he?
Trav: (pause) Grey. Blind. Crippled. His eyes . . . (distressed)
Didi: Blind and crippled . . .
Trav: Grey. Grey walls. Bit by bit. (pause) Rounds. Wheels. Gone. No more wheels. Bit by bit. (pause) The dreams. The forests. The seas. Flora . . Pomona . . Ceres . . . Gone. Bit by bit. (pause) And the story . . . his story . . . his story to end. Longing that all end. Longing that all go. Dim go. Void go. Longing go. Vain longing that vain longing go. Bit by bit. (pause) I saw my light dying . . . 
The imagery from the world of Endgame seeps in and the identity of Traveller begins to unfold, though not for Didi. The encounter reaches its cathartic moment with Hamm's story, the one he was intermittently telling in Endgame.
The haunting tune returns. Traveller presses his fists against his head, writhing and howling, as if fighting some terrible force in his head. Finally, he blurts out: "Crawling on his belly, whining for bread for his brat . . . " Then, in a breathless torrent of words, Traveller, or rather Hamm in his head, with his sardonic pomposity tells the story - the pathetic tale of a man and his little boy. Who are the father and son in the story? And who is the story-teller? These questions hung in the balance in Endgame. And now Didi, what should he make of it?
Traveller, having at last released his demon, if momentarily, comes to a halt ruminating on Hamm's last words.
Trav: All that, all that . . . (pause. almost inaudibly) Father . . . (pause) His story . . . his story to end. (pause) Gone on long enough. "Cried for night; it falls: now cry in darkness . . . " (silence)
His parting words are spoken in response to Didi's heartfelt but misplaced questioning.
Didi: (recovering himself, gently) Was he not good to you?
Trav: They said to me, That's love, yes, yes, not a doubt, now you see how -
Didi: Did he not beat you?
Trav: They said to me, That's friendship, yes, yes, no question, you've found it. They said to me, Here's the place, stop, raise your head, and look at all that beauty. That order.
Clov once spoke these words in the presence of Hamm. Traveller continues with his parting words:
Trav: I said to myself - sometimes, Clov, you must learn to suffer better than that if you want them to weary of punishing you - one day. I said to myself - sometimes, Clov, you must be there better than that if you want them to let you go - one day. But I felt too old, and too far, to form new habits. Good, it'll never end. I'll never go. (pause) Then one day, suddenly, it ends, it changes, I don't understand . . . I open the door of the cell and go. I am so bowed I only see my feet, if I open my eyes, and between my legs a little trail of black dust. I say to myself that the earth is extinguished, though I never saw it lit. (pause) It is easy going. (pause) When I fall I'll weep for happiness.
(His eloquence is gone when he speaks again.)
Now no choice but stand. Somehow up and stand. Somehow stand. That or groan. The groan so long on its way. No, no groan. Simply pain. Simply up. (he resumes his journey) Dim light source unknown. Know minimum. Know nothing no. Too much to hope. At most mere minimum. Meremost minimum . . .
As night falls, Didi is left ruminating on Traveller's parting words. Gogo's sleepy voice is heard.
Didi: Dim light source unknown. Know minimum. Know nothing no. Too much to hope. At most mere minimum . Meremost minimum . . .
Gogo: (sleepily) Did the old man come?
(The haunting tune returns and breaks into words.)
Chor: Where then but there see now another. Bit by bit an old man and child. In the dim void bit by bit an old man and child - They fade. Now the one. Now the twain. Now both. Fade back. Now the one. Now the twain. Now both. The dim. The void. Gone too? Back too? The dim. The void. Now the one. Now the other. Now both. Sudden gone.
In this collage the roles of the shite and waki have become interchangeable. The two men waiting have journeyed centuries of metaphysical distance to reach this locus, this impasse, to which they now seem to be confined. For Traveller, who bravely left one grey world in search of light, the journey has been an endless trudge through the dim void, as though he had never left that place. Their encounter is accidental. Nonetheless their paths have crossed, and the meeting has brought about knowledge of a sort on one side and, perhaps, catharsis on the other. For the rest, let the author's own words speak.
 Worstward Ho, Grove Press, 1983, p.9.
 Ibid., p.10.
 Ibid., pp.13, 14.
 Variation on Beckett passages, Waiting for Godot, Faber, London, 1971, p.60.
 Variation on Beckett passages, ibid., pp.68, 72.
 Waiting for Godot, p.76.
 Worstward Ho, p.76
 Variation on Waiting for Godot, p.91, and Worstwafd Ho,
 Worstward Ho, p.37
 Variation on Endgame, Faber, London, 1976, pp.12-17.
 In Endgame Hamm tells this story intermittently. In the collage an edited version of the whole story is given in one go, ending with an elegy of a sort, delivered by Hamm at the end of the play: "You cried for night; it falls: now cry in darkness. (pause) And now? (pause) Moments for nothing, now as always, time was never and time is over, reckoning closed and story ended." Endgame, p.52.
 Variation on Endgame, pp.50-51.
 Worstward Ho, pp. 13, 14, 15.