Samuel Beckett might have brushed up against your memory like a shifty cat quickly grazing past your leg before changing its mind and scampering off into the darkness. Or perhaps you’re very familiar with his work that planted him firmly at the forefront of absurdist theatre when it was at its peak of creation. Regardless of whether you’re an absurdist expert or simply up to try new things Endgame captures the essence of the theatrical era mischievously, grimly and superbly. Shake and stir’s production of Endgame brings the successor of Waiting for Godot to life, or perhaps more appropriately closer to death.
The play concerns four characters – Hamm, Clove, Nagg and Nell. Hamm can’t stand, Clove can’t sit. Nagg and Nell give a whole new meaning to the sensation of “old”. In a world clearly defined as “an end” where there are no more mammals as far as the eye can see, and infinite endings as far as the blind eye can feel dark comedy comes alight.
All four of the cast were both wonderfully wicked and painfully still. That is to say, they captured the stillness of their characters, their limitations and fears. Leon Cain as Clove and Robert Coleby as Hamm particularly stood out. Beckett’s tragicomedy stands out against time. As you’ll come to find out if you see the show “the beginning is in the end” and the circular landscape of the script proves this point both in a meta-fictional way and introspective of the characters.
In its full-blown glory Endgame is not a short game. The everyday punter will require stamina to endure the play. Though it has its flourishes and witticisms, its cresting revelations and crashing waves of despair, Endgame is a long game. There will be those of you out there who feel it could borrow a modern twist like a facelift or a nip/tuck. But that would miss the entire point Beckett was trying to make now wouldn’t it? In a sense, the defining difference of Endgame is that it wasn’t written necessarily to entertain. Entertain it will, but it will also make you suffer, make you wander, make you frustrated, make you wonder if life ever ends.
Shake & stir theatre co’s Endgame is currently playing at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC until the 20th August. For info and tickets, head here.
The reviewer attended the performance on 11th August, 2016