Theatre Mirror Reviews - "Endgame"

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entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark


by Samuel Beckett
Directed by Sophi Sagall

Scenic Design by Stefan Barnas
Lighting Design by Ken Nero
Costume Design by Anne Polsky
Stage Manager Jason Knight

Clov.......................Bryce Lease
Hamm...................David Delgrosso
Nagg.....................Aaron Bodwell
Nell...............Danielle Vintschger

"Well, but Nobody understands Beckett," said the voice behind me on the stair, reassuring a figure behind. Good old Sam Beckett, I thought: some things never change, do they? And I decided to thread my way through the Boston Garden, on those old familiar paths that are never straight lines to my destination, strewn with crisply browning relics of summer, while up above the glutted green hung, wearily waiting their turn. I glimpsed the glints of distant streetlights in a pond nearly motionless in the silent air, took the same twists past the ever-unchanging treetrunks, and thought, once again, about "Endgame".

I thought about the wry delight of Bryce Lease's smile every time he told his impatient master no, it wasn't time for his pain-killer yet. I thought about his ramrod-stiff, stringy, beaky resignation, and those unbending knees that meant he could never sit down. I thought of his patient, then his impatient boredom with it all, his orderly sense of ritual doing things, like whisking dust-covers meticulously off the dust-bins and off his garrulously imperious, sleeping master to start the show, and the distant, curious silence in which he stood in those moments at the end, ready at long last to step from the nothingness inside into the nothingness outside.

I thought about the repetitious bravado with which David Delgrosso demanded his servant search both horizons for anything like a glimmer of life, while discussing the inevitability of death. I thought of his slippered feet totally unmoving beneath the lap-blanket while he demanded that his servant take a progress round the bare room shoving the upright wooden chair about on casters, and insisting though blind that he felt not exactly centered on his spot. I thought of this garruolous tyrant, bereft even of an audience, let alone a conversation, clutching his dog --- a stuffed dog --- and listening for the alarm that meant his servant had not died offstage, but left him alone at last.

I thought of those dust-bins where Aaron Bodwell and Danielle Vintschger, legless lumps dry as dust as the master's parents, still croaked for food and yearned toward unattainable kisses. Old makeup unconvincing on those young faces said much less than did their lusterless gaze, or his stubborn jaw, her vague insistence on a threadbare shred of memory, about the dustbins of their history.

I thought of Stefan Barnas' set with its hints of wall that were less claustrophobic than the actions taking place within them, and Mike Drinkwater's battered props and Anne Polsky's moth-eaten costumes, all of them dusty and pale under Ken Nero's bleak lights. They all gave the tired feeling of an all but emptied chessboard where a lonely handfull of stalemated figures made there last ritual moves toward finis. How many old, repetitious games might play themselves out in such a setting.

As I ruminated, a trio of as yet unmigrated mallards ruffled the water into life, detouring toward me in empty hope of a handout before paddling stolidly on. I quickened the pace of my twinging metal left knee and finding my last dollar for the token trudged through autumn to the trolley-stop, thinking about "Endgame". Good old Sam Beckett, I thought: some things never change! "Well, but Nobody understands Beckett."


"Endgame" (till 19 October)
Emerson College, 69 Brimmer Street, BOSTON

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