Endgame - Donmar Warehouse 1996

Monday, 29 April, 1996

This is Katie Mitchell's directing debut and why she chose this to be her first is beyond me. The plot (I think) is that there must have been an holocaust and most life had been destroyed. The story centres on four people who survived, Hamm(Alun Armstrong), his Mother and Father and his servant (Stephen Dillane). His mother and father live in dustbins after losing their legs and Hamm, who is blind and crippled spends his time in a chair in the middle of the room, only the servant can walk( with a limp).

To be fair the acting is good and so was the set which gave it the right atmosphere, but the dialogue is just a load of rubbish. What Beckett was trying to say, (I'm sure he was trying to say something! ) just does not materialise in this drama.

Maybe it's me but I cannot see the point of these type of plays. If most drama were like this I would quickly lose my obsession with the theatre. Do yourself a favour and give this one a miss.

(Darren Dalglish)

A dull evening caused by a dull play. Beckett is not the easiest of playwrights to understand, and Endgame is an example of his obscure style.

The play is about four people who survive a nuclear holocaust, they live in a dingy house, living off dried biscuits and little else. The drama is based on the relationship between Hamm, who is master of the house, his parents Nagg and Nell and finally Hamm's servant, Clov.

The play reflects Beckett's philosophical view that life is meaningless and that the only sane person is one who is a total pessimist. You can tell Beckett lived in France throughout the fifties and was greatly influenced by the existentialist school of thought popularised by Sartre.

Two lines from the play reflect the message which Beckett was attempting to convey. "Good as nothing. Is that possible?" and "If he's weeping, he must be alive." It is that sombre, depressive view which dominates. The script may provide an interesting philosophical read, but as a play it is tedious and does not in my opinion deserve to be on a West End stage.

If you enjoy existentialist literature such as 'Nausea' by John Paul Sartre, then this is a play to be seen. It is well acted with a marvellous performance by Stephen Dillane as Clov. However, if you think Beckett is just morbid, dull and meaningless then this play will certainly confirm your opinion.

Endgame was originally written in French, and in my opinion it would have been best if it had never been translated, let alone but on the stage.

(Alan Bird)

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