Words and Music, a collaboration between playwright Samuel Beckett and composer Morton Feldman, was given a rare outing at The Sage Gateshead. Featuring two characters Words and Music - also Joe and Bob - it was a work that initially baffled and bemused, but ultimately left with plenty of food for thought on the power of words and music. One way of looking at it - and there were many - was as an internal dialogue during the creative process with the conscious mind represented by Lord Croak (Alex Elliott) who instructs Bob and Joe to find expression for a range of concepts. Joe, played brilliantly by the wizened Cliff Burnett, opens with a soliloquy on sloth and is irritated by the interruptions of Bob, who is played by several members of the Northern Sinfonia under the baton of Alan Fearson. When Croak barks Love Joe struggles to articulate himself. Bob, however, captures the essence of love in a few easy bars. Asked to speak on on Age, Joe becomes increasingly frustrated spewing out a meaningless monologue, while the doddering dissonance of the music brilliantly depicts an old man. Joe gradually succumbs to the strains of music and begins collaborating with Bob, relishing the sound of his words. Croak, who groans in disapproval at Joe’s efforts leaves the stage. Joe, in a state of desperation, implores to music to play and gives one last long sigh of resignation, music having seemingly won the day. Very short and very sweet, the play worked on many levels and both words and music were brilliantly depicted.