Originally scripted by Samuel Beckett in 1971 for BBC2’s programme about the arts, ‘The Arts Programme’, ‘No Beer for Jon’ is an existentialist absurdist drama which turns the whole idea of white patriarchical imperialist misogyny on its head then tears it into a million pieces which are then burned and scattered to the four winds of received wisdom and mixed metaphors.
‘Jon’, the supposed-protagonist is written quite brilliantly and subversively by Beckett as a subversive device of subversion. Here, we see the Hubris and downfall of the imperialist, Western mindset embodied in Jon who is neither protagonist or antagonist.
Throughout 38 painful minutes, Jon tries and fails to get a beer from various Vietnamese bar staff who are mainly off-stage (perhaps a reminder of their being mentally sidelined by racists).
‘No Beer for Jon’ is characteristically problematic (this is Beckett) in that the original script was only half a page long and written in the largely indecipherable code for which the theatrical auter was known. The BBC were bloody useless as well, having wiped the original tapes in 1976 with a damp cloth that made them go all mouldy.
Set loose on the original script, a crack team of cypher experts were only to make out one clear line, which was “Close the curtains, Jeffrey. I’m amphibious.” Even then, they weren’t too sure about ‘amphibious’.*
So instead, ‘Jon’ was so in character I just let the camera roll.
Enjoy. Or don’t.
Up to you, really.
* Yes, I stole this off Alan Moore. I’d prefer to call it intertextuality, however, if you don’t mind.