Russell Thorburn

About Russell

Happy Birthday, James Joyce

The Playback

Growing Up Irish

The Long Labor of Seamus Murphy's Wife

Dylan Thomas in
New York

The Adventures of
Big Daddy and
Ned Nuclear

Drama Home


The Playback

In a Manhattan screening room Buster Keaton sits angrily in a folding chair, viewing the footage of the film they shot under the Brooklyn Bridge. He hates every camera angle and wants to make changes. Sam Beckett tells him no, they aren’t changing anything in his script. Keaton, the actor in a film called Film, wants to strangle him. Joe Coffey, a bearded cameraman, plays the third character in this tense play based on Beckett’s only visit to America. Violence erupts in the dark while the projector spits the black and white images onto the wall.

The Playback, originally recorded for radio, was expanded into a full-length play and performed on Off-Off-Broadway, February 5th and 7th, 2003.

Written by Russell Thorburn, with music by Patrick Lynch, and available on CD.

Funded by CUPPAD and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs.


"I'm sick of the whole business. You change a word in the script and he changes the way we film the script. Then Buster changes everything you have changed because he's sicker than I am of this whole business…"

"I'm not afraid to die. Listen, it's only a movie. No one's going to be killed over a movie."

from The Playback




CD cover art by Doug Hagley