So I’ve been saving this post as I might not be able to write about any new theatre shows for a while with all that’s going on. A couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to visit The Old Vic to see a double bill of Rough for Theatre II and Endgame starring Alan Cumming and Daniel Radcliffe. Since then like every other theatre in the UK The Old Vic has closed its doors and the show run has consequently ended. Obviously I completely agree with the decision to close, but it is still very sad to see so many wonderful organisations have to struggle through this uncertain period. But enough of the doom and gloom, I’m hear to tell you how much I enjoyed my visit!
I have seen some complex theatre in my time, but I was quite nervous that I wouldn’t understand Endgame at all! I was eased into Samuel Beckett’s world though, with the performance of Rough For Theatre II. Cumming and Radcliffe discuss the pros and cons of a man’s life who is standing on a ledge contemplating suicide. Their business like manner shows an attempt to organise the thoughts of someone in deep desperation. Their inability to do so easily lets us glimpse the complexities of the human mind and see that such decisions are not made based on logic or in a way that those unaffected by mental illness can fully understand.
So at the interval I felt a little bit more reassured that I might be able to at least partly understand Endgame. Emphasis on the partly!
The curtains open to reveal an almost empty room, with two dustbins in the corner and an armchair in the middle. In the armchair sits an incredibly thin person, their face covered with a cloth. As the plot unfolds to tell the story of Hamm (Cumming), who can’t see or stand and his servant Clov (Radcliffe), who can’t sit. They appear to live in a dystopian world where hardly anyone has survived some kind of apocalyptic event. With no one else to talk to except Hamm’s parents, Nagg and Nell, who incidentally live in the dustbins at the side of stage, Hamm and Clov bicker and squabble over their boredom and desperation.
Accidentally topical for the situation we are all in now, the play deals with the repetitive routine of a household restricted to staying indoors and how we often turn on the ones we love the most because they are the ones we are closest to. Despite the dark depravity of their situation the strong wit and ever present sarcasm kept me laughing – something I was not expecting.
Favourite Character: Clov played by Daniel Radcliffe
While much of the comedy in this play comes from quick wit I thoroughly enjoyed the physical comedy portrayed by Clov, from the energetic way he climbs a ladder to the obscure way he lowers his head into the dustbin to speak to Nagg.
Favourite Scene: The Toy Dog
Can’t really explain this one, you’ll just have to go and see a future production!
Regardless of whether I was meant to interpret Endgame in this way or not, looking back at the play now I see the importance in valuing those around you. The ones who do the small yet incredibly important things to make our lives the way they are. It’s easy to overlook the little things, but Endgame and this crisis remind us that it is not only the rich in society that keep us going, but in fact those that keep us fed and healthy, whether that’s supermarket workers and the NHS or your family and friends.