Doorway Arts Ensemble EndgameBy Laura & Mike Clark • Nov 16th, 2010 • Category: Reviews
Doorway Arts Ensemble
Montgomery College Performing Arts Center, Silver Spring, MD
Through November 21st
Reviewed November 11th, 2010
Endgame is a one-act play by Samuel Beckett. Beckett being fond of the Theatre of the Absurd did just that, wrote an absurd play about life and its meaninglessness framed around four people. A man who can’t sit down and wants to leave his master, a master who can’t walk, a husband and wife who have no legs and live in a box where the man whimpers frequently.
Endgame requires you to pay close attention to the words being spoke. Only one actor is able to move freely around the stage. You really have to pay attention to get the hidden and double meanings in the words. If you are a fan of searching deep for nuance and interpretations of a play, you shouldn’t miss Endgame.
The set was the most inventive use of space. Master Carpenter Richard Robinson built a grid of rope and covered three sides of the black box stage. On the front edge of the “cage” were openings that appeared to be windows that Clov would “pull back” to show the sea or sky or whatever. It was so well done that after a time you forgot the ropes were there. Ellen Mansueto’s costumes were reminiscent of rags, but their many textures and muted colors worked really well.
Hamm, played by Gordon Adams was the wheelchair bound main character. His elocution was well performed. Clov (Michael Harris) was able to wander around the set to do Hamm’s will. The legless couple Nagg and Nell played by Doug Krentzin and Susan Holliday lived in trash bins. Nagg was difficult to understand, and therefore his speeches seemed plodding. The bulk of the emotion actually came from Clov. He was a strong counterpoint to Hamm’s expositions. Clov’s phrasing, though still long winded, had a drive to it that made you relate to his plight and desire to leave Hamm.
So what are we saying about Endgame? The acting was extraordinary, as three of the actors had to rely almost entirely on their voices to give depth and meaning to their lines. The set and dressing was very interesting. Unfortunately, since not a lot “happens” in Endgame, it is very easy to get distracted by the comfortable seats, or your to-do list at work, or one of a hundred other things. This is not a play to use to escape from the Real World.
Samuel Beckett has been labeled by critic Martin Esslin as one of the major writers of the “theatre of the absurd.” What this meant to Wesslin was that Beckett wrote about life from an existentialist point of view. Beckett was not crazy about this type of categorization. From his point of view he was writing about life, albeit in metaphors, but life as he saw it nonetheless. As the director of Endgame, I agree with both Beckett and Esslin. This is partly because I have great admiration for both of them in their area of writing for the theatre, Beckett as the post WWII playwright in the last half of the twentieth century, and Esslin as the insightful theatre critic/analyst who saw a movement in the writings of Beckett, Ionesco, Pinter, Genet and others in post WWII Europe. As one reads these playwrights and sees or directs their plays, one sees a definite attempt to show us a world through the lens of the existentialist, to show us the modern world by abstracting the concrete. This is not a world of “realism” but rather a world where ideas are objectified, are shown to us in a very theatrical manner. This world is world of the theatre, which can only exist in the theatre. But in spite of that, this theatrical world directly relates to our world and to how we individually live our lives. Many think Beckett is painting a picture of hopelessness but I think he is trying to show us how to do something about a life that can seem hopeless. It is, of course, up to you as the individual audience members to interpret Endgame for yourself. I hope you will look for ideas in this wonderful play and in the brilliant language of Beckett and then find something in our production that can make you think or even change your life a little.
Photos provided by Doorway Arts Ensemble.
- Clov: Michael Harris
- Hamm: Gordon Adams
- Nagg: Doug Krentzlin
- Nell: Susan Holliday
- Direction and Production Design: Perry T. Schwartz
- Lighting Design: Christopher Campanella
- Costumes: Ellen Mansueto
- Co-Producers: Claire Myles, Perry T. Schwartz
- Assistant Director: Eve Vawter
- Stage Manager/Master Carpenter: Richard Robinson
- Program Cover Design: M Price Workshop
- Specialty Hardware Props: Housewerks Architectural Werkshop
Disclaimer: Doorway Arts Ensemble provided two complimentary media tickets to ShowBizRadio for this review.
This article can be linked to as: http://washingtondc.showbizradio.com/goto/5864.
Laura & Mike Clark started ShowBizRadio in August 2005 because they love live theater. They each have both performed in and worked behind the scenes in DC area productions, as well as earned a Career Studies Certificate in Theater from Northern Virginia Community College. Mike & Laura are each members of the American Theatre Critics Association, and Mike is a member of the Online News Association.