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A CurtainUp Review
By Les Gutman
Roberts has spent most of his acting career playing the unflappable guy who must navigate a world of crazier folk. (Most recently, in The Tale of the Allergist's Wife but most famously in numerous works of Neil Simon and Woody Allen.) Here, he is doing the most flapping, but the skill set that made him effective before stands him in good stead. Confined to Hamm's improvised wheelchair/throne, and with sunglasses to prevent him from communicating with his eyes, he must rely on the contours of his voice, and he does so masterfully without becoming quite as hammy as, say, Michael Gambon in the London production linked below.
But is he a Beckettian?
One can also savor the performance of Kathryn Grody as Nell, Hamm's mother. The smallest of the play's four roles, it nonetheless contains some of its greatest wisdom. Adam Heller's Clov is satisfactory, undertaking the carefully articulated stage directions Beckett insists on without flaw, but unfortunately lacking in substantial depth.
The "easy" way to understand Beckett is in his historical context -- the existential nihilism of his Cold War-obsessed world. So it is discomfiting to open the Playbill for this production of Endgame and see when and where it is set: "here" and "now". Dare not view this Endgame as a vicarious experience.
Charlotte Moore has done nothing explicit to update the setting of the play; it is a faithful, and solid, staging. There is a sense of faded illusions (not to be confused with delusions) that eerily resonates in 21st Century terms. Hugh Landwehr's set suggests a place in decay, that was perhaps never quite as nice as its owners imagined. Linda Fisher's costumes take on a similar sensibility.
There is a hollowness at the core of Endgame (and much of Beckett) -- a knowledge that change is its own master, and happiness an illusion.
LINK TO ANOTHER REVIEW OF Endgame
Easy-on-the budget super gift for yourself and your musical loving friends. Tons of gorgeous pictures.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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At This Theater
Leonard Maltin's 2005 Movie Guide
Ridiculous!The Theatrical Life & Times of Charles Ludlam
6, 500 Comparative Phrases including 800 Shakespearean Metaphors by CurtainUp's editor.
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Go here for details and larger image.