Writer: Samuel Beckett
Setting: The play is set in the room of a house with a bare interior.
The first performance in Great Britain of Endgame was given in French under its original title of Fin de Partie at the Royal Court Theatre, London, on 3rd April 1957.
Endgame is a one-act play by Samuel Beckett. It was originally written in French and is categorised as Theatre of the Absurd. The plot is continuous, with no separate scenes.
Endgame sees four characters barely surviving in a derelict house in a world that seems to be coming to an end. Hamm, the master, is unable to walk and is confined to a chair on castors. His servant, Clov, tends to his every need, however absurd it may seem. Nagg and Nell, Hamm’s parents, live in two old ashbins. Endgame is a play that explores the final stages of life. The characters flick between accepting and denying the inevitable. They play out daily routines to prove they are still alive, routines such as Clov pushing Hamm around the extremities of the room in his chair or Nagg and Nell attempting to kiss. Endgame shows that human beings can find courage and humour in the darkest of situations; it is a witty, poignant and remarkable piece of writing.
Other popular plays by Beckett include: Waiting for Godot, Happy
Days and Krapp’s Last Tape.
Endgame is a fascinating play and I would love to see a production of it. It has striking similarities with The Chairs by Eugene Ionesco, which I blogged about here.
The word play and power struggle between the characters Hamm and Clov is a joy to read. The dark, depressing setting conjured up by Beckett acts as a brilliant backdrop to the 'end of the world' scenario faced by the characters. I found moments of the play extremely funny. Clov sometimes performs physical activities in the manner of Stan Laurel of Laurel & Hardy. There are also very touching moments between the old couple, Nagg and Nell, who rely on companionship to get them through the dark times.
Endgame would certainly bring in an audience and its themes are well-suited to challenging times in which we find ourselves. It has a small cast of four, but a substantial set is required. It is definitely more suited to a professional theatre company, but with the right cast an amateur company could produce it. Waiting for Godot is my favourite play by Beckett, but Endgame is a close second.
See the full list of my A Play A Day series here
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