Endgame

Co-produced with Glasgow’s Citizens Theatre, Beckett’s Endgame hits the stage at HOME until 12 March 2016.

The play opens, and the set forms a post-apocalyptic room.  Slowly, hobbling and with effort, Clov places stepladders under each window and opens the curtains in turn.  The sense of place is perfectly evoked; dingy interior, low sun outside.  He removes the coversheet from Hamm who comes to life, his face bloody from a nosebleed.  Hamm is blind and can only sit, Clov can only stand.  Hamm is dependent on Clov for physical needs.  Clov is psychologically dependent on Hamm.

Each of the elements of this play work in their own right.  Hamm (David Neilson) commands the stage from his armchair, delivering Beckett’s precise lines well, sometimes with great humour.  Clog (Chris Gascoyne) is at once both obedient and complex, dependent on Hamm but using the man’s blindness to trick him.  Nell and Nagg are poignant when they appear from dustbins, and clearly show how badly we treat older people.  The direction, the set, the lighting, the sound, all impressive, although of course Beckett has always been highly prescriptive.

But somewhere in joining all this together, the play loses its impact.  Hamm is a tricky character to play.  To feel nothing and be uninterested by him is to be unable to listen to what he is saying.  To see him as aloof is to ignore the important interplay between the two main characters.  To listen to him pronounce is to watch a monologue.  For me that’s the problem; I never quite knew how Hamm really felt about Clov.  There wasn’t enough silence, nor time for each character to react to what the other was saying.  The power in the relationship was missing, whether that came from being domineering or manipulative.

People seem to either love or hate Beckett.  For me the problem with this production was that I neither loved nor hated it.  I even gave it the weekend to ‘settle’ in my mind, but the time only makes it less memorable.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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