May 7, 2015
With Tom Budge, Sarah Peirse, Bruce Spence, Hugo Weaving
This production was no different, and actually had many similarities to Krapp’s Last Tape. Both plays open in silence, and no words are spoken for at least ten minutes. I remember Gambon dragging his long, languid fingers along the edge of a huge, carved oak desk for what seemed like forever, and I was completely captivated. In the same way, Tom Budge as Clov held my attention running back and forth going about his daily business with an admirable attention to physical detail. The repetition, the structure, his forgetfulness, and the anticipation of what, or who, was under the sheet all made for an entertaining opening.
Despite the play being a little challenging to follow, the performances were, unsurprisingly, outstanding. Hugo Weaving was captivating as the tyrannical, unforgiving Hamm. At first I was concerned about not being able to see his eyes, hidden behind clouded glasses. How would I connect with him? But he was so beautifully expressive with his languorous hands (echoes of Gambon) and utilised the entirety of his vocal range to such a great effect that I needn’t have worried. Weaving is an enviably clever actor, and his use of language is utterly inspiring. His voice is like chocolate, and the way he effortlessly squeezes meaning out of each syllable, whether it be from modern or classic text, is a gift. Bugde made the perfect companion, making great comedic and physical choices, and letting Clov’s strength shine through just enough to give us hope for him in the end. Both actors were playing within the confines of the script, and found comedy in very difficult and unexpected places. Sarah Peirse and Bruce Spence, as Nell and Nagg respectively, were entertaining, but I was baffled as to their purpose within Hamm and Clov’s world. They popped up out of bins and wore hideous makeup, but the characters were lost on me.
Nick Schlieper’s set and lighting design was delightfully bleak and foreboding, and provided the perfect basement home for the unlikely family, doomed to be forever alone until something breaks the monotony – death or departure.
I haven’t completely given up on Beckett, and perhaps I’d even like to perform one of his plays one day, if there’s a decent role for a woman. But perhaps they are better suited to drama schools for training purposes, without inflicting them on audiences who are unable to appreciate them.
A gentleman sitting in the audience behind me at a different show a few days later summed it up perfectly: “I want to be entertained. If I want to be challenged by something like Endgame, I’ll watch the news.”